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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Posts Tagged ‘Fly Fishing Lessons in Devon’

Devon Fly Fishing

Saturday, April 19th, 2014

Toby and I fished together Friday. When we meet up we often decide how we are going to fish for the day and (usually!) stick to it. I can’t always say it’s easy, especially if the fish aren’t playing ball, then guide in me wants to change things up a little but we do stick to it.

Yesterday Toby said “right, dries only” We were higher up a river and thought it was a pretty fair shout despite the day before with D and JB the dry fly fishing sucked. Having said that the sun was shining and I had some dries I had tied up that I wanted Toby to have a go with.

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The water was clear and we could see fish. None were rising but I told Toby the flies I’d tied would bring the fish up. It was a big claim and one I secretly hoped would work.

He cast across to a fish that took a look and while it decided if it was going to eat it a tiny fish came from nowhere and made its decision quicker than the larger one.

Toby carried on and had another. It was my go, I cast into a slight dip against a bank and the fly was taken almost immediately. It wasn’t the snaps I’d seen from early season trout on some other rivers just a good honest, yup, I’ll eat that type of rise.

Early in the season I often miss a few takes and sometimes this early on I am convinced the fish do too. I’m not sure if that is right or not but it makes me feel better about any I do miss.

The fishing was good, the fish in this stream are not big, a 10 incher is a good fish. I love nymph fishing but there is nothing that beats casting a light line rod with just a dry fly and seeing a small, wild brown trout decide the fly you tied over winter did the job you hoped it would.

Pete

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Warming up

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

I had been dying to tie on a dry fly and cast it to a rising trout. I did so the other day when I fished the Usk during what was a pretty cool Large Dark Olive hatch.

Baden on a days guided fishing on Tues

One of the first things I asked my host Lee when I tied on my dry was how quickly the fish took. I am used to lightening fast fish on the Taw and have gone from that extreme to the other when fishing for NZ brown trout that seem to take an eternity before you have to strike.

Neil on a days guided fishing on Sat

I was pleased that I didn’t stuff any of them but when fishing with a fishing pal James the other day we came across a couple of rising fish. I hit one of them too slow (Usk speed strike?!) and the other too quick. Thankfully James had one of them and hit it like lightening. Good work fella!

You’ll be able to read about the Usk trip in the next issue of Eat, Sleep, Fish

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Things turning?

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

I had an amazing weekend in Denmark with my good friend Ray (the Dude), fishing for sea trout. We also fished with Alexander and his son, both stalwarts of Danish sea trouting.

The weather wasn’t the friendliest and having just looked over the pictures Ray and I look more like reanimated corpses that weren’t that happy at being reanimated. That having been said, the worse the weather got the better the fishing got and so we just butched it out and fished on.

It was a real test of our friendship that we were wading in some pretty cold water and the waders Ray had leant me (I thought it might keep me under my baggage limit to borrow some) leaked. There was no way we were going to pack it in though and it was a memorable trip for many reasons.

You’ll be able to read about it in the next issue of Eat, Sleep, Fish in early May.

I got back Monday and was back on the river for the day with Baden who is new to river fishing. It was the first time in a while that I didn’t rig up for nymphs outright and we even saw a fish rise towards the end of the day.

Perhaps things are turning for the better?

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Fly Fishing in Devon 2013

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

I just wanted to wish every one out there in fishing land and beyond and very, very Happy Christmas and all the very best for 2013.

We look forward to seeing you next season!

 

Fly Fishing in Devon

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

I’ve just looked up and we’re nearly in September, has it gone that fast?

It seems like it to me. Not that I am sitting here doing a retrospective of the year just yet. On that front though I have already handed out my award for new bit of tackle of the year award and that goes to my Helios 8ft 4″ 2wt. It is just such a good bit of gear. I have been fishing 1 and 2 wt rods for many years but I haven’t got my hands on one that I would use just like a 3 or 4wt. It rammed the fact home to me the other day when fishing with Ray (The Dude) when I was casting a good sized nymph into a deep pot that had two 2.5mm tungsten beads on without a problem at all. I keep saying the thing feels like a 4wt and I treat it like one but it just comes back for more!

Anyway, shameless plugs aside it has been a really interesting time on the water. The fishing has been interesting and challenging at the same time. I guess I am a sucker for punishment but it is really, really good fun working out what these fish want and where they want it. The hatches, at the moment, are more trickles and can switch on and off pretty quickly which means I have been dragging people off one stretch to another to gain the best of the fishing. It is one of the advantages of having plenty of water to show people, and it really does help.

I have also noticed the fish have not been hitting the fly with the same sort of vigour as they did. I’m sorry but I don’t subscribe to the “they have seen a load of flies” theory it is just how it has gone recently. I know anglers like to blame themselves when they miss a strike or think they have pulled out of a fish. Sometimes the fish just miss it or just don’t fully commit. I think it has been the latter over the past couple of weeks, but more settled, slightly warmer weather might just change things a bit.

John has one on a caddis!

I had a cancellation the other day that was booked in Jan. I think this is one of the first signs of how tough things are out there that we have seen and it hurt us a bit from a lost revenue perspective but I guess when the guy first booked he hadn’t figured how bad it might get. I wasn’t told this but it I am reading between the lines. I know, we should take a deposit. Well, it is the first time it has happened and we like to run a more relaxed business and I know when people want to go fishing they always turn up.

The upside is that I get to go fishing and that is not a bad consolation. I know where I am going to head and am looking forward to it.

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Devon Fly Fishing

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

I’m probably being a little previous (at least I hope so)  that the river has had a more autumnal feel to it this week. Fishing has felt a little tougher, although it has been a pretty good season so everything is relative I guess. The starts have that cooler temperatures to them and it has meant it has taken a bit of time for fish to start looking at flies and 4pm has been a good time to get into some good caddis hatches.

I sort of feel a bit guilty hearalding the end of summer and a shift into autumn, especially as it is mid August so I hope I am well and truly wrong and that we get a nice Indian summer to end off the season.

Maggie at one with the Taw

It feels like Exmoor is still getting the lion’s share of rain when it falls, which is good for those fishing the tributaries and those below the Mole junction of the Taw but, like I said earlier, the season has been a good one to us further up the line and one that I hope continues.

I have been tying flies a bit more of late and after a day on the river I give a bit of thought to what has gone on and how I can tie something that might be of use when I am working. During the season tying is more of a necessity than a hobby, so that I have enough of the right flies just in case a few go astray. I do it because I need to and I don’t have a problem with it but I like to get them done and ready rather than lavishing great love on them. That having been said I have really been enjoying it of late and have come up with a few easy to tie patterns that like the description says are easy to tie and catch a few fish. Foam has been one of the main materials and I have a balloon caddis that takes a few minutes to tie and floats like a cork and an emerger pattern that sits right in the film of the water and the fish love it. I’ll post some up at some stage.

Fly Fishing in Devon Fly Fishing Lessons, Tuition and Guiding in Devon

Fly Fishing in Devon

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

I can’t remember how many times I have said to myself, Emma and have probably written here too that I intended to do more fishing this year. It hasn’t played out that way but it makes those days when I have a rod in my hand even more special.

It is also great when you get to fish with people that are great company and superb fishermen. Jim Williams ticks both of those boxes for me in a big way. I speak to Jim a fair bit as I think we share the same views about life, business and fly fishing. Namely, that they should all be fun, not complicated, shrouded in mystery and not to be  taken too seriously.

Jim had fished one of the beats here a few years back but I was keen for him to catch a few fish on the Taw and then to head up to Dartmoor the next day. We met at the hotel, had some coffee and hit the river.

It is interesting to watch and learn how other people fish the water you know so well and it was great to see Jim catching fish from the off. As we both had a few days off it wasn’t about catching huge numbers but about sharing the fishing together and enjoying the whole thing. We decided to just fish some dries and see what happened. It worked just fine!

We headed back to mine where Emma had prepared a curry which we wolfed down and then we popped out to have a look for some sea trout. We dropped by the hotel to pick up Daran who I had been guiding for a few days to see if he wanted to tag along. He did and we hit the water. Daran had a good pull off of a fish and I sat back and watched the guys fish. We were all a bit tired so headed back pretty early for a nightcap at the hotel where we ended up talking fishing for a good long time.

Next day I took Jim up to Dartmoor and to a few of my favorite stretches. Once again, within minutes he was in to fish and the pattern pretty much continued. I think we only fished about 3 patterns the whole 2 days but the highlight was watching Jim pick the pocket water of a stretch I like to head to. It was great seeing him enjoy it so much. I have a feeling he’ll be back!

We both like fishing light lines and were both fishing 2wts for the couple of days. I have a new 2wt that I am over the moon with and I think it will be my main rod from now on. Jim is a huge fan of 10ft rods and fishes them almost exclusively. I think he was one of the small handful of people who were first to do so, whereas now they are a common site for me on the river. He really thinks about tackle and what he is trying to achieve with it and puts it to such good effect in both his fishing and teaching.

Jim, it was a real pleasure buddy and I can’t wait to hit the Coln with you. To read Jim’s report and much better photos on our trip click HERE.

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Just Sometimes Part 2

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

I remember reading one of John Gierach’s books where he writes about “expertising”. He and his buddy AK were invited to show a guy how to fish a lake he had on his land for trout. Predictably, they tried everything and couldn’t buy a fish no matter how hard they tried. The guy then rigged his own rod up (it might have been a spinning rod but I can’t remember) and proceeded to pull out fish after fish.

I had a half day booking that Emma had taken from Michael and Andy (Father and Son in Law) to help them with their casting and to show them how to get the best from the mile of river ( I won’t tell you the name!) that was at the bottom of their land.

We hopped into my truck and drove down the steep hill to the bottom. This was fun in itself as I had to engage four wheel drive!

I parked up and saw a really nice little fishing hut and after talking through tackle and rod selections we went on to some grass to talk casting. I managed to get a quick glance at a short section and already liked what I saw.

They cast well and we headed off to have a look at the river. I rigged up a trout rod and salmon outfit to display what would be needed and planned on showing them where they should be thinking about fishing for trout, sea trout and salmon.

The water had some really nice pools for salmon and some nice spots for sea trout to hole up in. I pointed them out and showed them how they should think about fishing them and then came across a really nice pool. Now, one thing is for sure – I never, ever fish when I am working. People pay me to guide them, not to go fishing but I do sometimes demonstrate a cast if it is needed. In this instance I was showing them how to vary the angle they could fish their salmon fly at before Michael had a go. I was explaining about managing the line when it went tight. I did what any angler would do and lifted into what was a salmon. It was on and so I handed the rod to Michael who in all the excitement locked down on the fish a little bit too much and it came off but it was great for him to feel a fish on.

It was amazing water and one I would love to fish one day in a non working capacity!

I had the real pleasure of guiding Daran for a few days this week. He is a very accomplished angler and knows his stuff. The brief was to show him the Taw and then to head up into Dartmoor on the second day. Sounded perfect to me!

I took him to our new beat on Monday and mentioned about potential for sea trout along with the trout. We started with a dry and then tied on a nymph, duo style, when we hit my favorite sea trout holes. The first one didn’t bring a sea trout on but on the last cast, when he was inducing the nymph, he hooked into what we first thought was a salmon. He was fishing a 4 wt and kept the fish skillfully out of the snags and safe from danger. We got a better look and I couldn’t believe it when I saw spots on the tail. It was a rainbow of over 5lb and was way too big for my net. We got to a position where we planned to beach it. I knew it was going to be a toughie and said in true saltwater fashion “if I touch the leader it counts” ! I managed that and as it was coming up the bank I tried to ease it into position when the hook hold came loose and the fish swam off. I think it had been in the river a fair time and the nearest fish farm closed about a year ago so I wondered if it had come from there. I know it shouldn’t be in there but the river is not plagued with them and I work on the basis that everyone should get a break now and again and that goes for the fish too.

So we get to the next pool all excited and Daran’s dry dips. The fish heads upstream and we know it is a strong fish. Fish safely netted and it is Daran’s first sea trout. We spent the afternoon catching more trout and we reckoned we’d hooked another small sea trout. What a great day!

Tuesday and we head to the Moors. Daran excelled again and soon had beaten his best ever tally for trout. I am the worst person to count fish but was nice to count down to the magic number. We stopped counting after that as it only seemed right and I’d have never remembered how many he caught. I took him to a few of my favourite places and then one last spot. We were fishing ( I think) a small dry when we saw a good fish move. We covered it but nothing happened and I mentioned that it looked like it had taken a caddis and tied on a balloon caddis. He cast it out and the fish whacked the fly.  It was a good fish and Daran was christening my new 2wt and kept the fish out of a couple of spots where it tried to wrap him. The fish was landed and we thought that was a good time to end the day with a 14 1/2 inch fish.

Just sometimes it all goes to plan!

Had a great couple of days with my good friend Jim Williams, report to follow.

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Breaking all the Barriers

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

The great thing about fly fishing is that there are no communication barriers needed to understand what a fellow fly angler is trying to say, even if they don’t speak the same language. A few nods and a look at the fly boxes is often enough to show the other person exactly what they need to know.

I was recently guiding Raphael who was over from Spain for 3 days of fishing with me. Despite what I have written above, Raphael spoke excellent English and made me slightly embarrassed that my few words of Spanish didn’t really do me proud.

We had a great time on the river and it was a real pleasure to be able to show him a nice variety of water. He was an excellent angler who covered the water perfectly and caught plenty of Devon trout.

He liked to use his flies, some of which were a little different to those I normally use, but they worked really well. So well in fact that I took a good mental note and have tied up a few as I think they will make great additions to my box. The flies are quite similar but there subtle little differences that sometimes can make the difference.

I am sure Charles Darwin would see them as a sort of natural selection of the patterns that have been slightly changed to suit their natural surroundings, or in this case trout, but it is nice to see these little alterations work here too. I know when I am tying flies that I tie a few and wonder if a slight change might work. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t but I love trying things out!

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Fly Fishing in Devon

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

I had always had this little fear that when the mayfly was over that the fish had feasted so well that it would take them time to get back into the swing of things again. Thankfully this has not happened and the fish have fed right the way through. Last year I seem to recall that it was black gnat that was the hatch that really got them going again but caddis and Blue Winged Olives have been the main hatches that the fish seem to be most interested in on the Taw.

Dave learns to fly fish a river

The caddis have been pretty heavy starting at around 11am and then stopping for a bit, starting again around lunchtime and then starting and stopping until evening. It has meant that it has looked like all you needed to do is tie on your favourite caddis pattern and go catch all the fish. If only fishing and come to think of it, life, were that easy. It hasn’t been though and just the slightest trickle of BWO’s has been lurking about in the background that has really got the fish going.

We always like to take a bit of time to watch the water but you really need to watch even more closely to see just the smallest of hints that tells you to think a bit more about the fly selection you make.

Interestingly we are still getting some pretty good numbers of mays coming off but the fish seem to just ignore them now. How is it they can gorge on these big flies and then just switch off of them? Is it just a case that you can get too much of a good thing?

I was lucky enough to be out guiding Paul last week and I know he has had a really busy time looking after his wife Margaret after an operation and project managing a house rennovation. He was dying for a day of fishing and so I took him out to cast a fly at a few fish. Despite not having the chance to get a fly rod in his hands for a bit he fished liked a demon and had plenty, including picking up a well earned sea trout. Really, really well done Paul!

Well done Paul!

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