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Pete's Weighty ( Fly Fishing ) Words

Archive for April, 2008

One for the box

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Paul had done something a little different with an elk hair caddis we used on the Culm last week when I was guiding him and has written a little bit about it below. Hope you enjoy!

Had another great day out with Pete on Wednesday, helping me come to grips with our stretch of the Culm which has consistently defeated me both in terms of wadeability and catching fish. The demons have now been exorcised!During the day there was an excellent rise to caddis- in fact the fly of the day was an emerging caddis of Pete’s that caught the whole afternoon. However, on looking in my box, Pete was quite taken with some of the caddis that I’d tied. He hadn’t seen one like it before; I’m sure there’s any number of people that have tied it, written it up and claimed it as their own, but I’d just developed it myself as a solution to my own fly-tying inadequacy.

I’m newer to tying than I am to fishing- and this is only my second season on the rivers. Hence I’m still all thumbs. When trying to tie elk hair caddis in particular, I end up with a fly with no eye- covered by hair and /or thread. I therefore tried tying one back to front so the eye was clear. To my surprise, it worked quite well. Nothing particularly needed to say except tie everything backwards. It helps to start with a good head at the bend. This stops the hair drifting down round the tail during successive chewings. You also get a nice little narrow bit once you’ve tied the body that acts as a nice well in which to fix the hair.

The second thing is to keep the hair on top of the hook else one starts to crowd the gape of the hook and could lose hook-ups. The other advantage for a beginner is that you can actually see the length of hair wing as you tie rather than having it hidden by fingers.

I’d wanted to apply what I learnt on Wednesday by returning to the Culm today. Unfortunately, I had a little vehicular disagreement with the owner of my local pub and, as it was my fault, a few rainbows are needed as a peace offering and I have to go up to a little stocked lake to get them!


Work, rest and play…

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Saturday was great weather and I was lucky enough to be on the water in Wiltshire doing a demo and some fly casting tuition for members of a club I belong to. We covered lots and I hope that it went down well. The guys were all good anglers and just wanted a few tricks to make the day on the water a little easier. We covered presentation casts to ensure a good long drag free drift and also how to deal with the wind in different situations along with a few other casts.

Ray came and gave me a hand and it was really cool working with him, he did an awesome job!

So it gets to 5pm and its a long drive home, what do you do? Yup, go fishing! It is much nicer having the A303 to yourself so a later leaving time is much better. Ray has found a superb Chinese take away so we sat on the tail gate of my truck and munched a most excellent MSG free noodles and chicken and then hit the river.

We thought it would be nice to fish dries and we’d seen fish gulping LDO’s throughout the day and with the wind dropping we thought we were in with a chance. We did OK too and had some fish. When Ray and I fish together it is a case (if the fishing is good) of having one and the other person has a go. There was a short spell where Ray was re tying on a fly and I had moved upstream just enough that he could make a few casts and pick up a couple of fish I had left for him!!

The highlight was a fish that we couldn’t really work out. We had been fishing through a caddis hatch but this boy was on something different and despite throwing a few flies at him he didn’t want to take. I had foolishly left my phone on and Mark had called to see how we had got on. I was telling him about this fish and hadn’t noticed Ray sneak on a size 22 unweighted pheasant tail nymph. It did the job but as I said to Mark it must have been a hollow victory as he had broken our dry only rule for the night. Mark thought it was a bit like foul hooking a fish!!. I laughed but big respect to Ray for being flexible and sussing things out.

Apparently my pics of Natasha and Wendy didn’t show up so lets try again…


A few from last week….

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

Natasha and Wendy spent a day learning to fly fish with Mark and below are  a few words from them…


We just wanted to write to thank Mark for a fabulous introdution to fly fishing -
we had a lovely day on the lake and hopefully this will be a great start
to many years of enjoyment by the water.

 Alan Stevens into a fish!


Alan has also made a return to fly fishing after a break but under Marks expert guidance he was casting a beautiful line in no time!

Grannom anyone?

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Its been a busy week so far both in the office and out on the water. Mark was out with Alan Stevens on Tues and is out again today with Natasha and her friend. I have been down to see how they are doing this morning and looks as ever as if the ladies are taking to fly casting like ducks to water. As mentioned before Bob is away sunning himself but I was out guiding Paul yesterday. We were on a stretch of water that Paul has fished before but wanted a little bit of help with. I was very happy to oblige and he did himself proud! It was a really long beat and we covered some water and as ever I find it hard to leave rising fish so lunch ended up at 2.45 rather than the 1pm we had planned. It was worth it though!

The fish, as a whole, are still looking to hold in the middle and tails of pools although we did find a few smaller ones in the heads but not many. The fly of choice was a balloon caddis which by the end of the day was a little the worse for wear and we decided to retire it to the hall of fame for all of its sterling work. Funnily enough I have had this fly in my box for quite a while now but haven’t needed to use it until yesterday. The reason being that we had an awesome hatch of grannom throughout the day. Grannom are a member of the sedge family and the first hatch of sedges that we see in the year. Paul had been on the same stretch of river the day before and hadn’t seen a fish rise although the hatch was starting and despite hooking a fish on a dry first cast it took a couple of hours before the fish got truely locked on to them. When they did though we witnessed some pretty savage takes and some great fishing. It is pretty neat hitting everything as it comes together. Hopefully Paul left with a few more tricks in his bag and even mastered the skated downstream sedge…right Paul?!

Music for the road

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Part of a good fishing trip is having the right music to go with the travelling part. If it is a long trip I’ll have a good selection of discs carefully selected and put together by my daughter Charlie. At 16 she is fully aware of what is hot and what isn’t and puts together an appropriate compilation. I don’t remember at her age having such eclectic tastes and I am sure your finger leaves the musical pulse when you get to 30 and it is only a short time before “Dad dancing” starts.

She manages to make the Beach Boys sit comfortably with The Chili Peppers via Soft Cell. I must admit there was a time last year when Mark and I were off bassing and drove through the middle of Barnstaple with “tainted love” blaring out of the CD player and open windows…strange lot us fly fishers!

On the outwood part of the trip I prefer faster music and it might be The Foo Fighters (a big SFFS team fave) or The Who but on the way back when there is plenty of conversation about the day something a little more mellow is required. A fave this year that has gone down well with clients is Sea Sick Steve. He churns out some high quality blues. I first saw him on Jools Holland’s Later program on BBC2. He stole the show and if you are unsure about whether to commit to an album of blues he appears on the Later Live album so that you can get a flavour.

Two albums that are a permanent feature are from the Live Lounge series. The cool thing about these are that you have well known acts covering other peoples songs. You have artists like Lemar covering The Darkness (it works!) or Keane covering U2. It is great to see other bands paying the ultimate compliment by copying another artists work. I know I for one would be take it as a compliment that my work were taken seriously and being acknowledged.

Bob has left for sunnier shores for a couple of weeks so I am at the helm for a bit whilst juggling tuition/guiding in between. It is fun being so busy but where does the day go to?

I left the office and popped down to the lake to let someone who had popped in cast a couple of rods and was surprised to see Mark teaching in a T shirt. I know they breed em tough in the midlands but perhaps the weather is on the turn. He took a camera and I hope he’ll have a shot or two.

I am on the river tomorrow with Paul and am really looking forward to it!

In search of new waters…

Monday, April 21st, 2008

Bob is away from today for a couple of weeks and not withstanding the thought of him sunning himself in his Speedos Mark and I had Sunday off as he did the teaching honours so we could do some fly fishing.

 We are building a few new river venues up as we think it is nice to offer different options rather than the same old same old, its not so much fun when you know the names of the fish! The little gem we have found flows into the Tamar but clears really quickly as it is high and straight off of the Moors and so is handy if we do have a wet one. It is a really pretty little stretch and one for the small stream fan and is just 10mins away from SFFS mission control. I might give it a shot Weds if the weather stays the same as I am out guiding.

Whilst on that it reminds me of a joke about a fishing guide who dies and wakes up on a riverbank with his client waiting to go fishing. He has a perfect day picking the right fly, spotting the fish and the client fishes perfectly and doesn’t miss a fish. The day ends with a very happy guide. Next morning the guide wakes up at the same beat, same client, same conditions. The client starts fishing and everything is exactly the same and at the end of the day everything has happened as the day before, even the conversation. The same happens for the next few days. Frustrated and at the end of the 12th day of exactly the same the guide turns to the client and says “hey, I thought this was supposed to be heaven” the client flashes him an evil smile and said “who said anything about heaven? welcome to eternity!”

When a little bit of sun creeps through and things warm up the Large Dark Olives are looking to hatch and we have also seen the odd hawthorn. If the winds are right look for places like Colliford and Roadford for spectacular brown trout fishing with hawthorn flies. There is nothing like seeing a fit 2lb wild brown hit your offering and head off for deep water!

Reely, reely special…..

Friday, April 18th, 2008

I managed to get back from a two day trip to California in one piece and despite a nasty case of jet lag I have to say it was really worth it. We have been extremely honoured to be asked to distribute Abel reels in the UK. Part of  the signing off process was to visit the factory and meet the guys in person. The really cool thing is that first of all they were a great bunch and we all hit it off really well but secondly they are all hard core fishermen. This means the guys who are building the product know and understand what they are building and actually use it out there; be it on the flats or on a trout stream. Any little tweeks that might be needed are understood from both an engineering perspective and more importantly from a fisherman’s view too!

They are fiercely proud of their product and it was wonderful to see everything is built in the factory even down to the screws and pawls, nothing is outsourced. This means no corners are cut as they build exactly what they want and need and to the exact specification. Like Scott, everything is built in the USA by fly fly fishermen for fly fishermen so you know you will be getting a product that has spent hours out on the water with a lot of knowledge and know-how behind it. 

On the 28th April at the annual dinner at the IGFA museum Abel are to be recognised as the world’s leading reel manufacturer. High praise indeed and well deserved. This speaks volumes about the quality and durability of their reels!

We finished the tour and meeting and it was really nice to pop down to a local bar for a quick drink before the flight home.

Abel are famous for their anodised reels and you can really go to town and have a custom pattern for just about every occassion. Your local Abel dealer will have a selection for you to have a drool over! We have some exciting plans for these reels in the UK.


It was a real pleasure to meet the guys and to see a company that puts quality, passion and pride into the product they are making…here’s to you guys!

 I had an email from Jim who has just popped his Permit cherry…good work fella!, hopefully I’ll be getting a crack in December!

Next week is a really busy one for the school, I’ll be busy guiding and Mark is on our lake with plenty of newcomers including a couple of ladies. Looks like my new camera is going to be busy…shame about the operator of it!!

Birthday trout….

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

I have taken the day off today as it is my birthday. On days like these it is a perfect for a little spot of fishing. Emma and Charlie joined me and we headed to the Teign for a couple of hours of fishing and then lunch in the pub by the river. The other reason was that I was lucky enough to recieve a new bamboo rod as a present. This one is made by Luke Bannister down in Cornwall. Luke is a great guy and fellow fishing bum. We met last year and found we both had a love of bamboo rods. The difference is that Luke is pretty dam good at building them! I went for a 7ft 3 wt which fits the bill perfectly for fishing here and the space in the bamboo rod line up. I strung the rod up with a standard SA 3wt WF line and it really sings.

The water was low and clear so I stuck with the usual set up of klinkie and small tungsten bead head and managed a few fish. Nothing of real note but nice all the same. The girls took our dog, Enzo, for a stroll and we met up and had lunch and got back before the weather broke.

The rod is awesome and managed everything with ease even when a downstreamer picked up. I think it will be perfect for up on the Moors too.

 Bob was teaching on the Tamar on Tues and his client did a bit of fishing at the end and had a good pull and they saw a salmon roll. Sounds like there might be a few tourists in town.

I am off for a few days to the U.S on business. Who says fly fishing isn’t glamorous?!!

Snow, swallows and thoughts of steelhead…

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

I was due to teach Luke today but as I have not met him before and he is 11 I agreed with his dad, Simon, that we would play the weather by ear as we were both keen that Luke didn’t get cold. I got to SFFS Mission Control early as I had a load of emails to sift through but the signs were ominous. Driving down the A30 I had seen cars coming up covered in about an inch of snow. I was getting the rods ready to strap to the truck and the phone went. Simon had rightly decided to postpone til midweek. The snow was falling heavily and it was cold so it was the right thing to do. Mark was up at our Yak Shack at Roadford so I decided to pop in and see him have a cuppa. The watersports guys were having a snowball fight and you could barely see the water from the Shack. The snow was starting to settle but the showers were not long enough for it to get a hold. I hung with Mark for a bit and decided to head home. Now as any Trout Bum will tell you what do you do when you suddenly find you have a day off?  Thats right, head for the river!

I had to pop in to pick up waders and said hi to the girls. Emma said she has seen swallows…perhaps they have been a little previous?!

I headed for my beloved Taw. I belong to a couple of clubs that have fishing there and headed for one of my favourite stretches. It was a little chilly but I rigged up my 2wt with the ever present black klinkie that had worked so well for Jim on Friday and I also tied on a green tungsten bead head nymph NZ style about 3 ft from the dry. I am sure heavy stuff hi sticked through the deeper pools might have been an option but the upper reaches of the Taw are pretty small and confined and bar a few holes the water is pretty shallow. Hi sticking is great in a lot of circumstances but when I have a day off I like to cast my flies rather than lob them!

I know it was cold when I started as I lost feeling in my left hand pretty quickly but carried on. I had a few small fish and decided to carry on up the river. There is a really nice bend that for some reason I don’t have the sort of success that such a fishy looking hole should offer but I threw my rig in there and missed a fish, cursed and then stepped up again. Early season is great as the over hanging branches are thin and not as heavy as summer time so its perfect for those tight in, right up against the bank casts. Well, I guess I was lucky this time and my dry dipped under and I felt a nice fish on. It was a good fish, my rod has measuring marks on it (to keep me honest!) and a quick check showed 12 inches. I was really pleased.

 I carried on up and had a few more fish, I had been fishing an hour and a half and the thought of a cup of tea became appealing. I went back to my truck and still in my waders hopped in a headed out the back way. A few minutes later I came out by Taw bridge which has a parking spot for the other club I belong to. I couldn’t see the parking space but decided if it were clear and no one else was fishing there it was a sign and I should have a fish.

It was empty so I parked up and decided to go upstream of the bridge with the same set up (I hadn’t broken my rod down)  I started at a pool that is reasonably deep but nice and slow and I have had some nice fish from in the past. Third cast and a plucky little 7 incher took the nymph. I carried on around the corner and up to the next corner. The weather had got worse and the temperature had dropped a little. The snow had got pretty heavy and I was thinking of what it must be like being a steelhead fisherman. These guys are often out in horrific conditions chasing sea run rainbows. It is often said steelheading is more of a religion than a pastime. It sort of reminds me of sea trout fishing and some of the guys who live nocturnal lives when the fishing is hot.

So, I’m standing there casting and thinking about the weather and something really nice has a go at my dry. I’m not sure who jumped the most but I missed it.I think I was just surprised something came for the dry in such awful conditions. Why is it that as fishermen, I see this a lot when guiding, that when we miss or lose a fish that we straight away fire a cast to the area where we just lost the fish. I did just the same, perhaps it is a vain hope that the escaping fish will give us another chance to catch him?!

The snow eased and although the fishing didn’t improve for a bit things warmed up. There were some small trickle hatches, I saw one LDO and some really small stuff and on the last bend it was a treat to see a few rising fish. I managed one of them and it spooked the other so I cut my flies off and headed home.

You should have been here yesterday…or should you?…

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

I was guiding Jim yesterday. Jim is from just up the M5 and has fly fished rivers just a couple of times but has done a fair bit of stillwater stuff and wants to tackle rivers more seriously this year. We spent some time on river fly fishing casts and then it was off to put it into practice.

 The day before had been glorious. We had our first barbie of the season at home (plenty already at Scott Fly fishing School HQ or as we now call it the Command Module!) and it felt pretty good to be working outside. Tomorrow is always another day but yesterday was  infact a lot different. There was light rain, cloud and it was certainly a lot cooler.

The river though was pretty low and crystal clear but there was no sign of any hatch when we got into the river. The setup was the ever faithful black klinkie and a small nymph tied on NZ style. I set the dropper at a couple of feet and we kicked off. It was cool to see on the 2nd cast the dry dip under and a fish on. A small fish of about 5 inches but welcome none the less. We carried on upstream but things were quieter. We concentrated on the tails of pools and slightly slacker water as early season these tend to be good holding areas but as the season progresses and things warm up then it is the heads and faster runs of pools that I like to spend more time on. This strategy didn’t appear to work but a half hearted strike at the dry got me thinking that perhaps with the water low and clear that if we made it worthwhile for a fish to have a look at our dry then we might have a plan. I will usually use a size 16 or 18 klinkie but I tied on a 14, tied on lightweight shrimp hook, still black, and Jim threw it out. I wouldn’t say the fishing was electric but we did pretty well and caught more than our fair share (nicest fish of 9 inches) and the dry outfished the nymph easily when the textbook might say something else. There is something special about seeing a fish taking a fly off of the surface and encapsulates for me what fly fishing is all about- the art of deception. We ended up staying until after 7 as the fish really came on and as I said to Jim “do you want to leave biting fish?”!!

 After yesterdays blog my copy of Total Flyfisher came through and the fish off between Mark and Jax is in there. It is a good read and very amusing.

 I’m hoping the weather stays as it is today (fingers crossed) as I am teaching 11 year old Luke who sounds like he is a mad keen fly fisher in the making. We’ll be on our lake and hopefully the fish will be biting!

More settled weather and the rivers will be coming to life. Don’t forget we have a variety of private river beats of trout fishing throughout Devon and Cornwall that are lightly fished and are full of hungry wild trout. So if you fancy something a little different drop us a line but be quick, the diaries are getting full!!