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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Posts Tagged ‘Fly-Fishing Devon’

Fining down and thinning down

Friday, April 27th, 2012

No great exciting news on the weather front other than the Taw shooting up and looking more angry than I have seen it in a while for this time of year.

It has meant I haven’t been able to work which has sucked a little but I have been sitting at the vice tying flies mainly for myself and once again trying to reignite my love affair with CDC flies. I’ve tied a bunch of them from F flies to just about everything inbetween. I have also for a while now been using CDC on nymphs with some pretty good success.

The plan to fish more than usual, although scuppered in the short term, has had me getting my lanyard out as I plan not to use the gear I use when working but have my flies ready on the back seat of the truck poised for action. 2012 I will be travelling light once more!

The bad weather has also meant that Issue 5 of Eat, Sleep, Fish is ahead of schedule and will be ready to go on May 1st. Being so far ahead has also given me a chance to get  Issue 6 under way as May is a manic one for guiding so it has been the one I have worried about little bit but articles are coming in and it is full steam ahead.

Pete with a Taw trout


A sublime way to spend a morning, immensely relaxing, totally absorbing, completely  enthralling and in the company of a great host. Your guidance, knowledge, continued feedback and encouragement was 1st rate. The results speak for themselves, six fish, plenty that got away (homework for me) and a great photo of my first fly cast, wild trout to remind me.

Thank you.



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Devon Fly Fishing

Monday, April 16th, 2012

The river has been fun, and at times challenging, but I like it that way. I have been amazed by the size of the LDO hatches we have had and am just home from guiding where Peter did a great job of fishing the river for the first time and some more LDOs had the fish rising.

Rods rigged for a corporate day

At the weekend I was over at the excellent Blakewell Fishery at their open day. I did some tuition and explained a bit about casting and fishing and thoroughly enjoyed myself. It is a really nice place and it was nice to help people enjoy their fishing a little bit more.

Glenn and a Taw trout

The highlight for me though was meeting a Dad and his two sons who are fishing mad. The lads were about 7 and 10 but had the fishing bug bad. I had a quiet spell where I was eating a burger and was going to walk over and offer to make a few casts for them to retrieve but there was no need for that at all. As I headed over I saw one of the lads strike and hook a rainbow. Dad stood well back as the youngest son picked up a net and waited to do netting duties. Everything was done perfectly and the fish was dispatched by the lads.

Rebecca gets one under a tree

I spoke to Dad who proudly told me that that week they had done sea fishing, coarse fishing and today they were having a go for trout. What I loved most though was that once he has shown them what to do he then lets them do it for themselves. This is not just down to tying their own rigs, knots etc but everything including gutting their fish at the end of the day. The even nicer thing was that they loved every sec0nd of it and he was telling me that the only time they sit in front of a computer screen is to find out about tide times, a new knot or a fly that is working well. It was an honour to meet them and I am really sad I didn’t get their names as I reckon we’ll be hearing a lot about them in the near future!

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Bugs and Mags

Friday, January 27th, 2012

The drop in temperature has meant I have been adding some weight to the nymphs I’ve been fishing. I’ll fish nymphs in a combination of ways and enjoy them all. I was out the other day there was still a tinge of colour in the water so I went for a double bead head and it worked really well. It seems there are a variety of thoughts of the colour of the bead you tie on and the colour used. Orange is my favourite bead colour at the moment and I like using it in the conditions I have just described but have also started to snip off copper/gold beads in favour of orange for faster water working on the basis there is a bit more to catch the trout’s/grayling’s eye. As ever, mine are tied to fit the simple requirements – quick to tie, doesn’t matter if they get lost and they catch fish!

I published #2 of Eat, Sleep, Fish today. I think it looks pretty good and have been bowled over by the help I’ve received and the sheer numbers that have read it. We have all been amazed and really pleased. We’re not trying to be clever or smart, just share our love of fly fishing with other anglers.

A special thanks to Jim for your skills and enthusiasm.

I hope you enjoy it!       Eat, Sleep, Fish

Fly Fishing Devon with the Devon School of Fly fishing –  Fly Fishing Tuition, Guiding and Fly Fishing Lessons in Devon


Out of Order

Monday, November 14th, 2011

I was due to pop out with Toby for a few Westcountry grayling and was heading over to meet him when the phone went. It turned out that  his car had been broken into and some gear stolen. He was understandably pretty upset and had some stuff to sort out as a result of it.

I always try and look for the best in people but I can’t for the life of me understand what motivates people to feel they are entitled to take other people’s property. They were probably opportunist thieves and possibly had little idea of what they had taken. I know a couple of the rods that were taken had sentimental value and I am sure people who steal don’t think about things like this, or even care. I think that if these sorts of people are caught they should be made to confront their victims just to see what effect their actions have had. It is easy to steal something when you can’t see the rightful owner but how would they feel when they have to look their victims in the eye?

I was half way to the river and didn’t think I’d be of any help to Toby so I went on ahead. It was the first time I had fished this river without him and it felt a little strange.

The weather was a bit murky and the river had a very slight tinge of colour to it but it was perfectly fishable. I rigged up and tied on a dry and nymph duo style and cracked on. I had a couple of small fish nudge the dry pretty quickly but things went quiet for a bit. I worked my way up the river, focussing on the slacker areas of water and the slightly slower flows. The water wasn’t clear enough to stalk the fish so I worked on instinct and the fish started to come.

I picked up fish as I worked my way upstream. I didn’t knock the cover off of the ball or anything but picked up fish here and there. I spoke to Toby to see how things were going and he had found some of his gear down an alleyway so there was even some good news. He even talked about popping along if he could make his old waders waterproof in time.

It was past lunch and I fished up to where I normally get out but thought I’d try for one more and head back, working on the basis that if Toby did turn up it would be a shorter walk for him. I managed to get caught up in a tree in a really overgrown bit so hopped out and got in further upstream. There was a nice gentle curve in the river and I cast my fly upstream.

The dry dipped and I set the hook. I thought I had hooked a big out of season trout that first headed upstream and then down. There wasn’t much I could do with the fish but managed to keep it out of a couple of nasty snags and netted a beautiful grayling. I managed a couple of pics and slipped the fish back.

The weather was on the turn and any fish I caught after this one wouldn’t have done it justice so I snipped my flies off and headed home. I only wish Toby was there to have seen the fish.

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Wrong sort of leaves?

Monday, November 7th, 2011

I hit the river last week looking to catch a few grayling. The weather in Devon hadn’t been great but there was a break forecast in the rain and so I hit the A303. the thing I forgot to mention was that there was a bit of wind due instead.

Wind doesn’t bother me too much, despite fishing a 2wt rod and I had decided to fish a beat that was a little sheltered anyway. You might think it a wise move (perhaps not) but it did turn out to make things just a little more interesting as the wind was doing one of the many jobs it does. One of those at this time of the year is clearing the trees of their leaves.

The lovely flow lines that bring the grayling food and oxygen were also carrying the leaves off. To be honest, it was a little bit of a pain as both my dry and nymph did a pretty good job of clearing the river of leaves. Most of the leaves come off with a brisk false cast but others try and hang around a bit longer and can make an interesting mess of your leader!

I decided to fish the edge of the flow lines and the fish had similar ideas and it appeared they were staying clear of the debris too. I found a spot that was just above a deeper pot that I could see a few grayling in and had some great fun casting a double tungsten beaded nymph just in front of them and then gently lifting the rod when it was in front of them. I’d fish a few casts with one nymph then change it for another mixing the bead colours too. I fished a gold bead and had a couple and orange one and had a couple more and then a fly with a couple of pink beads on and had four fish. With the pink bead the fish didn’t even need the induced move and just hit it. I even had a couple of chub too that I can’t seem to remember catching on this river in all the years I’ve fished there.

After lunch I rigged up a French Leader and fished a couple of small nymphs. It worked well and I had a good number of fish and had on briefly a real hog that came off. It was good fun though and nice to be back up there again.

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Winter Fly Fishing School

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Now that the main part of the season is over one of my main priorities is to try and not to over winter too well. From walking miles a day when I am guiding to not doing as much has an impact on the wader size and I do my best to try and keep it under control. Usually I do some running but after years of wicket keeping the knees aren’t as flexible as they once were.

On that front I have been thinking of dusting the gloves down again and have been thinking of joining a local team and playing the odd game and have been delighted to hear that in my forties I can qualify for the local veterans team. I always thought there was a chance to play again at a sensible level as there were professionals still playing the game like Graham Hick and Teddy Sheringham in the Premiership who are both a similar age but now they have sadly retired. I listen to sport now and see that guys now playing at the best levels are the sons of people I used to watch. I am sure in my mind that I can still dive across first slip to take the thick edge but I think in “real life” that I’ll let the guy in the slips have a go for it!

The other thing I’d be thinking of trying was cycling but I just think it is so uncool. I have to admit it is nice to see a bunch of people getting out and doing some excercise but when they are riding 4 abreast and holding up the traffic thinking they are doing a good speed it can be annoying especially when I am in the truck and have trout to catch.

Emma and I recently walked to a nearby village where the Tour of Britain cycle race was passing. It was all very exciting but we had walked 4 miles to see something that passed us in about 1 minute but as least we had a lovely walk.


There were a couple of guys standing there in their cycling regalia which looked in my mind ridiculous and then another one of them turned up and I listened while they talked in a technical language that sounded like gibberish. Emma and I talked about it on the walk back and we came to the conclusion that people would have probably said the same if I had stood there in my waders and had started speaking to another fly angler. That is the great thing about hobbies and pastimes. There are so many some might be of interest to some people but not to others and once you get into them they are great no matter how silly we might think as an outsider. That having been said my new Simms jacket is rather stylish….well, at least I think so!

Fernworthy Brown

I met up with Howard the other day to fish Fernworthy. The wind was pretty similar to what I had exeprienced at Colliford the week before. I used the same set up, a 6wt rod with intermediate line and black tadpole and it worked really well. I caught quite a few fish and once Howard tied on a tadpole so did he. I fished the lee side again and the fish were pretty well bunched and liked the fly with really short, brisk strips. I did have a couple on a fry pattern too but tadpole was the fly of the day.

I am just back from a couple of days fishing the chalkstreams and they have some seriously low water. It meant that the grayling were bunched in big pods and we also saw a few pike on the edges of the pods just keeping an eye on things. I’ll be writing more about this soon.

Westcountry grayling are back on the menu this week so with temps dropping I’ll be sure to keep the knees warm.

My good friend Jim Williams has a new version of his site up which is worth a look with agreat blog too.

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Fishing with friends

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

There is nothing like the company of a good friend when you are fishing. Sharing the highs, lows and adventures makes having a buddy along to share it that bit more special. As the river season for trout is over I have a little bit more time for some fishing myself. Last week I headed down the A30 to Colliford with my good friend Dave. Dave runs The Dartmoor School of Fly Fishing. I don’t think anyone knows Kennick as well or spends as much time there (although Jan might give him a run for his money!). Both he and Lee are real experts on fishing Dartmoor too but he hadn’t been down to Colliford for a few years so we thought it might be worth a look.

Colliford is one of my favourite stillwater destinations and at just under 1000 acres is always an interesting proposition with plenty of water to cover and as there are no boats you get to have a good walk too.

We pulled up and two things struck me. Firstly, the low water. This was no big surprise but the second was the white horses that the wind was whipping up that were crashing into the bank at the far side of the car park. We thought the wind would be a little lively but with the lake being perched up on Bodmin Moor it was always going to be a little worse.

Anyway, it was a day’s fishing and wind wasn’t going to get in the way. We both rigged up our 6 weights, Dave with a floater and me with an intermediate line. Floating lines are usually the norm but I like to fish a black tadpole and move it a bit and the intermediate keeps my fly a little lower in the water.

When I fish Colliford I like to get myself on the lee side of the wind as I often find fish there. I remember guiding there in conditions only slightly less windy and fishing the lee where the wind hadn’t rippled the water. The unbroken water was only a small area but it was like a bonefish flat as we walked along shin deep casting to rising fish with a dry fly

That was the plan. We fished the carpark bank frst though as the wind was on our backs here. Dave had a fish swirl at his fly almost immediately. I had a lively take from a stone and lost my fly and that was about it. We decided to head over to one of the bays and try where there might be a bit more shelter. The wind was a bit like the stuff that can blow up in NZ and Dave had to hang on to his cap as it was blown off a few times.

After a walk and a few M & M’s (they seem to have taken over from Hobnobs as they are easier to transport) we hit the new bay. It was a bit more sheltered but still a little lively. We split about 50 yards apart and had a go. Distance isn’t really an issue on the brown trout lakes as the fish can often be close in but  I like to alternate and cast one straight out and then one parallel to the bank. I did notice that there was a drop off and and so made sure that I fished my fly right in case I got a fish following right in.

I kept working the water but was watching Dave. He was having some fun spey casting his line out and firing it a good long distance. It was a pleasure to watch. I whacked one out and felt just the slightest touch and struck. The fish shook and then decided it didn’t like what was happening. I managed to get it in, get a quick photo (not a very good one) and then slipped it back.

It was that sort of day. We had to work hard for fish but felt we did ourselves justice. Dave had brought some excellent pasties and we sat on some rocks, had a breather, chatted and enjoyed it all. I guess that is what it is all about.

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Dartmoor School of Fly Fishing Fly Fishing Kennick Lake and Guiding on Dartmoor

The End?

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

The Taw has shut for the year now. I could get all teary eyed and reflect on a season that has passed but there is no need, I’d much rather do that in December. There are still bass, pike and grayling to catch. I am having a quick breather before I get going again and there are things like cutting the grass that has got a bit long and trimming the hedges which we knew needed doing. We did the hedges today and I am really pleased that that one has been ticked off.

The other thing is that I have got back is tying a few flies. I haven’t had the time to tie as many as I would have liked and I have relied on a few shop bought patterns and the last few of my “specials” that have lurked at the back of the fly box. I have never carried many patterns as I don’t feel the need and I much prefer to tie one on and make subtle changes rather than going for something completely different. The change up fly will be the same but might be a little smaller, or perhaps even bigger, or just a little darker. Often this will do the job as the river is telling me what is hatching, or not hatching. So the clues are all there.

Geraldine casts for salmon

I have been giving the flies I have been using some thought and in some cases I have tweaked them just a little. I really like this part of fly tying. Sometimes I’ll tie 1/2 dozen identical copies (or as near as I can get) and then sometimes they sort of mutate a bit and I start thinking what if I tie a trailing shuck instead of a normal tail? This can be really good fun to do and  is great when I sit at the vice, look at the flies and think, yup, they look good. It is even nicer when the trout give them the thumbs up. The only downside of this is that when I am experimenting I only tie a few and we all know that the life expectancy of a fly decreases when you only have a few in the box and the trout are biting hard on them. Then there is always that tree that wants to grab them.

I’ll put in a few of the new ones as I am out fishing with a good friend of mine in a few days and I’ll give them a go. It sounds like the good weather we are having is on the turn now but it will be good to be out there. I spoke to Ray (the Dude) who was hot footing it back to Denmark after a trip to Miami and he reminded me that we were wetting a line in Montana this time last year. I think it is OK to get a bit sentimental about that but I tend to let go after a while. Still banging on about a trip like that after a few years means you need to go on a new one and we have one in the planning. That’s the great thing about fly fishing there are so many great adventures you can embark on. Some may be a long way away but some of the best ones can be right on your doorstep.

Paul with a Taw trout

So is it the end? No way. As I said at the beginning there are still a lot of fish to catch if you know where to look and I can’t wait to go after them!

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Back end fly fishing

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

It’s a funny old game. The leaves are falling, the tempertaures have fallen and there’s some colour in the water and you know what? The fish are biting pretty good.

I am out on the water just about every day and there have been a few mornings when I have peered out and thought mmmmm, this might be a toughie. It’s not like I don’t like the tough days. In fact I really like them. They are the days when you really think about fly selection, where you are going to fish and what might do the job for the day. I’ll carefully think about the beat we’ll be fishing and what will be the best for the conditions. Those I have guided will know I will have them leaping into the truck to try another beat if the one we are on isn’t fishing.

I was guiding Gavin at the weekend and it turned out to be one of those days where everything slotted into place just as I always hope they will. I took him to one of his favourite beats and we had a bunch of fish including a sea trout that we saw shoot out of his hidey hole and nail the Copper John we were fishing. It did his best to weed Gavin but some well executed side strain did the job and we netted the fish. We headed back for lunch at the hotel where the chefs always like to come up with something interesting to eat. Rob said he had come up with the ultimate fisherman’s lunch which he calls the Manwich. Tell you what, it is ideal fishing fodder.

We hit another beat after lunch and fish were soon on the dry. As the day went on the fishing went in pulses of activity but we took advantage of them. Just as we called it a day, the skies opened and the rain fell. It couldn’t have been better timing.

Just back from guiding on the chalk with the legend that is MFD. Report to follow shortly!

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The Dude is in the building!

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

I have just finished a few days fishing with my fishing buddy Ray (The Dude). He was over from his new base in Denmark for some fishing and hadn’t really picked up a rod for a while. I had been thinking how long it had been since we had chucked a line together and I reckon it was in Montana last year.

He had flown into Heathrow so we thought it only right that we started with a day on the chalkstream and so we headed to a venue that we have spent so many happy times fishing. I went up early as we were going to fish the next day and stayed in the most excellent Grayling House B & B. Grayling House is owned by Rick and his wife Lorraine. I remember the first time I stayed there and Rick answered the door in a Simms fishing shirt and I knew I was in the right place. The rooms and breakfast are also stunning.

Rick pops one back

As The Dude wasn’t due ’til later I asked Rick if he fancied a fish for a few hours, which he leapt at. We strolled up the river casting to rising fish and caught a few nice ones. As well as running an fantastic B & B, Rick is an excellent fisherman, fly tyer and great company on the river too. If you are in the Salsibury area look them up, it is worth it!

The Dude had arrived and had sniffed us out on the river and as it was dark we thought it best to head to the pub for dinner and a few drinks.

Another one for Dude

End of day grayling

Next morning the sun was out and the fish were rising. Dude was in to fish straight away and I watched him pick up trout and grayling. I got into the river and followed him upstream, thankful that he’d left me a few fish to catch. There was one run I was watching him fish and it looked to me like it was almost a fish a cast!

As with every proper fishing trip we ate some junk for lunch then had a tailgate dinner which for Ray was a Chinese and for me one of the best fish and chips I think I have ever had. It looked as though things were getting cooler and quieter at 7pm but the bugs and the fish got a second wind and we fished on late before heading down the A303.

For the Devon leg of the trip I wanted to show Dude some places he hadn’t fished before, so on the first day we headed to the river that shan’t be named. It was cloudy with some light rain when we left home but when we got there the cloud stayed but it warmed. Perfect. I hung back and watched Dude get off of the mark and then went up and found some water to fish. Dude told me he had been reading the latest Gierach offering and he had mentioned that when fishing with a buddy he would leave 3 large stones in an obvious place where he had got in so that his fishing buddy knew where to get out. We tried it and it works really well. The day was perfect and we fished long and hard and just had a packet of chocolate biscuits for lunch.

A fish from the nameless river

under the tree Dude!

A fish for me from the nameless river

Planning for the last day was easy. We had always planned a trip up to Dartmoor but other trips had got in the way, so this was to be the destination. Weather was ideal and the first stream we headed to had some great pocket water that I know the Dude likes to fish. After a sausage roll (we’d had a barbie the previous evening so there were a couple left over) we fished Cherry Brook. I love Cherry Brook. Although small it is easy to think that there are only small fish in there but I have seen some real hogs that have come after smaller fish that my guests have hooked. I even let out an expletive when I saw this and spent the rest of the day apologising!

Picking a pocket

It is also easy to think that you need to fish tiny flies on Dartmoor. While this is often the case, the monster 14 1/2 incher we had the other week was on a size 14 and Dude fished a 16 on the first stream we fished but we did go down to a 20 for Cherry. The fish don’t read the books!

Dartmoor trout

We walked, talked and fished. It was such a good day with rising fish and we headed back for an ice cream and last look at the river. Where we stopped there were people, dogs and just about everything else and the fish were still rising just beside them I guess they just get used to it all. The hardest part would have been trying to make a cast with all the tourists about.

Cherry Brook trout

So that is the trip. It was great, as ever, to fish with Dude I miss him so much now that he lives abroad but we are already planning another trip. His daughter Mia is showing an interest in fishing and Mia if you are reading I hope you’ll join us one day!

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