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Pete's Weighty ( Fly Fishing ) Words

Posts Tagged ‘Fly Casting’

Red and pink….

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

I’ve been busy tying up pink bugs for the upcoming grayling trips. I sort of stumbled on the colouration by my lack of a subtle shade of pink in my fly tying kit. The funny thing was that the grayling loved it. This is a shocking pink the sort of thing that makes you think “naaaaah, no way” but it works and works really well!

As ever with my fly tying it is simplicity more than anything else with a lead wire under body, clear back and 5lb mono as the ribbing. I have tied it as big as a size 8 and a little bit smaller too. Dependent on water height an conditions I’ll throw it under a dry or grease up the end of the leader and watch for the line to dart forward as a fish falls for it.

I don’t know if it is me but it feels pretty cold today. The wind is blowing and it feels miserable. I thought of warmer climes when Nigel phoned this afternoon to book a fly casting lesson and told me about his trip to the Seychelles in December. Sounds like he’ll be having a look for GT’s and wants to throw his fly just a little bit further.

I popped up to London yesterday and was amazed to see snow had fallen. Surrey had a hint of Siberia (OK just a little bit) about it and reminded me of how things are changing globally but also in our tiny little world we call fly fishing. The Russians are coming! I noticed it in London yesterday but also at a trade fair a few months back. It was held in Amsterdam and there was a good smattering of folk from across Europe but I bumped into some Russians too. Hardly surprsingly they spoke very good English (they probably write better English than me too!) and they could cast a bit too. I had a cast with a couple of them and they were pretty good. One of them had just passed his European Fly Casting Exam and the other was interested in coming to see what AAPGAI was all about. Apparently there are not a lot of fly fishermen there at the moment but things are changing as the locals are getting in to sport fishing as opposed to fishing for the pot by whatever means is required. Russia has long been a destination for travelling anglers but as the local economy has continued to grow more are taking it up.

We loaded up my truck and strapped a glass cabinet onto the roof to take up to Howard for the BFFI this weekend. I managed to get it there in one piece and Howard will take it the rest of the way. Sounds like there will be a good group going and please pop by and say Hi if you are there.

Lastly, I didn’t get a chance to fish with Jo on his stretch of the Exe this year but he dropped me a mail today and had 7 salmon this year….excellent work and see you Sunday!

Just about at the end….

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

It feels like I have been trying to mark the end of the brown trout season for about 3 weeks now. I managed to get out just before the close of the river season down here with a wonderful day up on the Moors followed by a trip onto my beloved Taw. On Sunday the brown trout lakes shut and so Mark and I popped up to Fernworthy to have a go for some trout there and to take some photos for the new website. I rigged up with my typical brown trout lake set up of intermediate line and black tadpole. I was a little shamed by Mark as he carefully tied on a dry. We decided to walk a bit and take in a beautiful day. We worked the bank that was out of the sunlight and came across a few rising fish. Being a gentleman (more like I had the wrong set up!) I offered Mark a shot at them and he efficiently picked out 3 fish. It was tricky fishing as there was limited back cast room. We walked and fished a fair bit but it was really nice to be out there on such a nice day. We also bumped into a few other anglers which was nice.

Yesterday I headed up for some chalkstream fishing. The river season for browns on chalkstreams closes today and I wanted to meet up with Ray to see in the close and to plan our trip to NZ. I say plan, we had a quick sandwich and decided to head for Christchurch where Ray has made contact with a well known guide there and fish around there for 5 days and then head south and fish for that area for 5 days. It is only a 10 day trip so we plan to maximise fishing and come back exhausted…I can’t wait!

The fishing was amazing yesterday. I got into the river and made a few casts with a dry (the usual scruffy klink) and picked up a nice brown. I moved up a bit and fished a “pool” just below a footbridge where I could sight cast to fish. It was nice to see the reaction of the fish to the fly and I watched with interest several refusals. There was a nice hatch of smallish olives in progress and I decided to scale things down a bit and tied a similar, smaller fly with a lighter hackle and watched similar results. This time I popped on a black klinkhammer with silver ribbing in size 20. This time no refusals and they were liking what they saw. Ray had left a message, the fishing had been too good to answer the phone, and when he turned up just over an hour later I had moved just 20 feet. When we broke for lunch I think we had moved about 60 feet or so. Ray had to leave about 2 ish so we headed downstream and worked our way back up. When he left I still had plenty of water to fish so I decided to see if the fish still wanted smaller still and tied on a size 24 klinkhammer I had tied earlier in the year. I was really pleased to see that it did work pretty well despite the lack of hatch at this time. I headed upstream further and I hooked a nice brown of 12 inches. I released it, snipped off my fly and said to myself that it was perfect point to end my river season for browns. Its nice when things like that happen, I didn’t feel the need to carry on for the sake of numbers; it just felt right to stop there. I guess it is now time to think about some grayling now….

We are busy getting ready for the Tackle and Guns show this week. It is a show for the trade to see what will be on offer for the 2009 season. It is always nice to meet up with people in the industry and show each other our latest offerings. We will be taking new rods from Scott including the new A3 and additions to the S4 range including a new 10ft 7wt. We have Jeff from Abel over who will be on our booth with some new goodies. We are also very excited that we have been asked to be the UK distributor of St Croix fly rods. We felt these rods fitted in perfectly with Scott from a pricing view as they don’t really overlap but they also fit in with our view of sourcing products that are built by fishermen for fishermen at a fair price. The rods, as with Scott, are built in the US and come from a company that has a heritage of rod building. I have been using and teaching with one of their rods of late and am really impressed. Jeff is with us for a few days so I am hoping to take him in search of some grayling!

It was sad to hear of the passing of Mel Krieger. I doubt there isn’t an instructor out there who doesn’t own a copy of The Essence of Fly Casting. It is a great book that explains the mechanics of casting in a clear and concise manner. He will be greatly missed.

Weighty or not….

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

I was just tying a few flies ready for the grayling and had knocked up a couple of blue winged olive nymphs. They are nothing really special but as I was tying them I thought of the hatch Champo and I witnessed a little earlier in the year. It was interesting as his dun pattern was completely outfished by my scruffy, I mean really scruffy klink which caught the fish as they were picking off the flies as they emerged. It was probably the case that my fly just caught the hatch at the early stage but it made us laugh anyway. It in turn got me thinking about a similar hatch Ray and I fished through on the Frying Pan a couple of years back. He was actually fishing an unweighted emerger pattern and was happily picking up fish. When I got back I tied up a few and never really got round to using them but the time with Champo brought them back to my mind again. The reason for this is that when I fish nymphs, as a whole, I fish them with a bead head. Nothing clever behind it just that if there are no risers theres a good chance the fish will be sitting down on the bottom waiting for something to happen. All the bead does is get me down to them a bit quicker. What about the time when the hatch is starting to get going though and the fish already aware of the flies ascending to the surface and starting to get interested? A bead head below the dry would work just fine but for real, just sub-surface presentation when we are starting to see them bulge below the surface would an unweighted nymph do a good job? I’ve played with it a bit this year and seems to be a pretty fair bet. I know its not new or revolutionary but how often are you using a weighted nymph compared to unweighted and what is the ratio of weighted nymphs in your fly box? I’d be really interested to know? If you catch a BWO hatch hang an unweighted fly off the back and see what happens. I tie mine in a variety of shades from hares ear to light olive to darker olive with a wire rib. The only thing I add is either a black wing case from a pheasant tail or just some black dubbing. When a nymph is about to emerge the wingcase is a lot darker in colour. Do the fish know? I don’t really know but it is a nice, neat way of finishing things off. As I mentioned before Ray is a huge fan of this and will often fish a really lightly ginked up pheasant tail and he puts it to good effect HERE.

Spookily enough I have jusy got off the phone with Champo and we had just had a discussion about it and we are going to play with unweighted nymphs a bit more next year!

Mark is really getting the hots for fly fishing for pike now the river season is over and has been creeping up to Chew on a regular basis. The man knows more about pike than most of us ever will! Anyway, I thought I’d pop this piccie up of him when we both went a few weeks back. The rain and wind had driven the trout anglers off of the water at lunchtime but there were two idiots that stuck it out… Fair weather fishermen?….Never!


Thanks to Emma

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Well, as the river season has come to and end today I have at last had a chance to sit down and write a new blog. It has been a little frantic of late but as ever a heap of fun. Last Tuesday I was on the Culm with Stephen. It was one of the first cooler nights we had and so it took a little bit of sun to finally get things going and as ever the Culm worked us hard but Stephen was up to the challenge!

Wednesday I took out Ann who is a newcomer to fly fishing. Her husband John is a mad keen fly fisher and she is looking to join him on a few of his fishing trips. I took her down to the lake where she was throwing a nice line in no time and we had some real fun catching our rainbows with a mix of flies including Chernobyl Ants. Whilst Ann was busy on our lake Mark took John down to the river and pointed him in the direction of a few wild browns.

On Thursday I met up with Rupert on the Bray. Rupert is an experienced angler and again it took a little bit of time to warm up but he hammered some browns on dries but we also came across a fair few salmon that were holding up. We spent some time sight casting to them but sadly we couldn’t get them to bite. At one stage he was casting to a small pod of sea trout and a really nice salmon while I hid in a bush shouting directions to him. I watched a fly pass right in front of a salmon but it just wouldn’t have it!

I had decided to take Friday off as I wouldn’t be able to fish the close season and headed up to the Moors. I started a little too early but by 11 the fish were jumping all over the fly. I had a look at the West Dart and headed over to Cherry Brook where I found a nice new spot. It was tiny but hugely entertaining. On the way back I thought I should pop into the Taw for a quick look and had an enjoyable hour or so until I got out. I had snipped off my fly as my season had ended and I clambered up the bank a contented angler. I was walking along the field and had gently been waggling my rod behind me when it dawned on me that the rod felt stiffer than normal. It hadn’t changed action, I had lost the top section! I’m not sure what happened but it had come off. I thought I might have caught it on some foliage getting out but didn’t see it anywhere. I spent an hour looking but no sign. I have been using my little Scott 2 wt just about everywhere but couldn’t see it. I was distraught and told Emma what had happened. We decided to go back and look next morning. Thankfully Emma spotted it within 5 minutes and I was a very happy bunny! Emma, you’re the best!

At the weekend we teamed up with South West Lakes Trust for a day of fly fishing and fly fishing from a kayak at Roadford. We had the full team out to offer tuition for fly casting and Alex provided all the tips for aspiring kayakers. The highlights were Bob’s demo showing what happens if you were to fall out of a kayak wearing waders and Champos cooking demo. We even had some trout sushi from a trout I’d caught that morning. There was also a draw and we had offered a brand new Emotion Fishing Kayak as the prize. The weather was stunning and it all went off really well.

Monday I took Dave for a day of guided fly fishing and I will never forget the look on his face as he hooked into something that must have been a lively sea trout it came off but had us both laughing. We also found a pod of them a little later that sent him into overdrive! We then headed off to another venue for some real small stream stuff which he excelled at and was a perfect end to the day!

I was due to be on the river with Jim today but we decided that the weather was going to be against us so we’ll be heading off after grayling shortly. He was coming from Bath and it seemed a bit far to offer a miserable day, I’d much rather try and make the whole experience a memorable one for all the right reasons! I’m up country to the end of the week for some guiding and looks like we might have some more settled weather.

Champo has been going great guns on the Tamar for us and has been putting a dent in the migratory fish! Theres still a few days left there so if I get a chance I might try and pop down.

Although it has been a great time there have been a couple of highlights. Both of them involve Charlie my daughter. When I got home on Wednesday night she asked if she could do some casting in the garden with me. This was a real joy! Apparently when I was in Scotland she had helped out with Richard Sharpes birthday group by offering drinks and helping out generally but she had been watching the tuition and at the end of the day asked to have a go. She did really well and caught the most fish of the day and under Mark’s tutelage she got going in no time. This was certainly the case when we had a throw and she was double hauling after a short time. We spent a good hour and a half of solid casting which was a dream come true but things were to get better. When we decided to look for my rod tip on Saturday morning she asked if she could go fishing for a bit. I couldn’t believe my ears! I have always wanted her to come fishing and she has on a few occasions but more as company than as a fisherman. This time though I was in “work” mode and guiding her on the river!! Although early, she managed to rise a few fish on a dry and I think she might just be getting the bug. It is easy to try and force your passion on to your children but this often doesn’t work but by just leaving things a bit you are in with chance…you never know she might just come to Colorado next year!!

Lots more happening, more of which soon……

Deveron Diary

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

I got back yesterday and must apologise for the lack of reports. The simple reason is that I was out on the water for as long as possible. We were up for breakfast at 8 and hit the water and then fished through til 7 where dinner was 7.30. By the time I had eaten it was time to hit the sack ready for another days fishing!

I’d love to say the fishing was outstanding but the weather played a very large part. We had quite a lot of rain and this would bring up and colour the water and then the water was left with a dark peaty tinge that took a while to clear through. The conditions were almost good on Saturday but there was still some colour and our beat and the next 2 beats up from us didn’t touch a fish which gave us quite a big clue. Being so low on the system is pretty cool but when you have high water to the extent we have had this season means the fish will push through pretty quickly. I would suspect the fishery we fish had not such a prolific season but the river as a whole had a good one. The end of season reports will be interesting.

There were some exciting moments one of which was for me when I fished the first run the salmon would encounter in from the sea. I fished all the way through the head of the pool as fish will rest having moved through it and got a really good take. On lifting whatever I had hooked headed off for sea again and emptied my spool at an alarming rate. The run was too big and aggressive to walk through so all that was left was for me to try and gain back some line. I managed to get a chunk of line back on the spool but I got wrapped and never saw what I was attached to. It was truly exciting and just a glimpse would have been nice but things like this just make it a great fishing story. There have been suggestions that it could have been A) a seal B) a tyre or C) a body…I’m sticking to a fish but I would, wouldn’t I?!!

I stuck with a fly when the spinner was a better option but I was rewarded with a 5lb grilse and was really pleased. It was one of the afternoons where Gilbert and Michael went in search of culture feeling the river wasn’t really fishable and Liz and I stuck it out. She managed a couple of salmon and it goes to show you sometimes get a reward for sticking things out!

One of the salmon Liz caught is below that went off to fight another day…


Deveron Diary Day 2

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

The rain hit us pretty hard last night when we were having dinner and we had showers through the night. Being low down the system we were prepared for a change in height and clarity as the day went on.

When we got to the river though it wasn’t it too bad a shape and I had a nice short beat to myself. It gave me the chance to play a little with angles,flies and depths. I mixed flies, changed poly leaders and approached the run from a few different angles. sadly nothing connected but it wasn’t through trying and I really, really enjoyed myself. We all met up at lunch and I saw my first few moving fish of the day. This always fires you up a bit and Micheal and I were a little late for lunch as it was rude to leave the fish. I managed a good pull from one but that was it.

As the day went on the water crept up in height and carried more colour so the others got their spinning rods out. Liz managed a grilse of 4lb and had a good fish come off close in. I stuck with the fly and managed another pull but that was it. We finished a little earlier and will talk through tactics for tomorrow but sounds like weather will be OK.

As ever I am never worried about numbers of fish and enjoy the whole experience (not trying to paint a brighter picture…honest!) but the think that bothers me the most is the way I eased into eating a 3 course dinner every evening and a large fried breakfast every morning!

Phones, flows and lady casters

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

There is a small brook close to where I live that gives me a really good indicator as to how the Taw will be looking. I was off teaching yesterday morning and I had to pass over it. It was a raging torrent. It was the same when I went off to do an afternoon casting session. Yesterday was a ladies day. I spent the morning helping Kirsty and Helen touch up on their fly casting and we did some double hauling too. They are off bassing on Saturday and wanted to get a bit more distance. Kirsty kept us laughing with the little dance she did when getting the rhythm of hauling.

The afternoon I met up with Madeleine who is learning to spey cast. She is off to Scotland next week chasing salmon for the first time. She starts at university shortly and is a smart cookie. She quickly picked up the concept of why and when we use the different spey casts and I was soon quizing her as to what cast she might use given what bank she was on and what direction the wind is blowing in. “So, we’re on the left bank with an upstream wind what cast would you use?” straight away “single spey, right hand up…or a snap T or C!” It was seriously impressive!

Anyway, I passed over the brook on my way to taking Charlie to school. She was happy to be driven in as I had to go to Exeter to see Vodafone about my mobile. I got this new phone in April and the battery life is shocking. I don’t really use any of the applications and I get 3 days of use out of it and I turn it off at night. Now, the thing that gets me is that when I chose the phone I went for the one with the longest battery life. This one was quoted as 540 hours. Seemed perfect at the time. It has been back once and they have given me a new battery. Today I was told that although these hours are quoted the real life is infact 2 to 3 days. Apparently it is something to do with the new batteries they use. I took her over to where they displayed my model and showed her 540 hours. “well that is at optimal setting, with no phone calls and perfect signal”!

Getting back to fishing, we passed over the brook and it didn’t look too bad. Not stunning but almost fishable. When I got back I had a quick lunch and decided to have a look at the Taw. I only live a few minutes away and usually get into my waders and drive down but I didn’t fancy my chances too much but on parking, jumping out of the truck and peering over the bridge it would give me a better idea. The river was up and carrying some colour but was just about fishable. As I was there it was rude not to.

I threw on the ever present scruffy klink and stepped in. The river was carrying some colour and was up 8 to 10 inches. Throwing a fly into the main current would have been pointless so it was a case of getting into any slacker, shallower areas to see if anyone was at home. It was the case and I managed a few, nothing of any size but it was great to fish when I thought I wouldn’t be. I saw a couple of kingfishers and was a little saddened to see the first signs of trees starting to shed their leaves. For me this means that the end of the season is nearing.

One thing I have noticed this season is how often I have used just a dry when guiding and fishing myself. The last few seasons I have confidently tied on a nymph below the dry and have felt I was fishing the nymph more of the time on this set up but this year the dry has done a great job and lets face it there isn’t much more of an exciting site than seeing a fish dart from his lie to hit your fly!

Having just mentioned that autumn is on its way it was nice to see this months Total Flyfisher and an article our good friend Tim wrote about a trip we all made up to Colliford earlier in the year. It was a great afternoon/evening and I remember Mark trying to drag me off of the water when it was dark but as ever I just can’t leave rising fish!

Green power!

Friday, September 5th, 2008

Rivers are shot and so guiding has had to be postponed so Mark and I did some work on our lake. We have had a touch of broad leaf in there and the first signs of Canadian pondweed getting a hold so we thought we would do a little bit about it. Now, I hope you don’t expect us to do any thing remotely normal or by the book and I am pleased to inform you that this wasn’t the case!

We thought we would try to harness the super human strength that both of us pocess and keep our carbon footprint as small as possible.  We gave it some thought and decided that the best method would be to use one of our 2 man kayaks with Mark at the back and me at the front with a scythe! I had Mark constantly chirping on at me about being either Old Father Time, or worse still, the Grim Reaper. I found the best way was to sit with my legs over the side and work the scythe as close to the bottom of the lake as possible one handed which I think made Mark’s life rather difficult to control our kayak. I would have thought it looked rather comical to see me shouting ”left a bit, NO left” as Mark rolled his eyes trying to control quite an unstable platform. We managed to stay dry but I am not sure what the fish must have made of it!  We were really pleased with how it looks and rewarded ourselves with a quick casting session. 

I had a go with the scythe on the bankside vegetation too as we have a group of 12 coming up the weekend after next and I wanted to cut a  few more casting spots. It’s a lot easier on dry land! We felt very pleased with ourselves and quickly hugged a tree and felt very green!

Mark had Jim down for some fly casting tuition on Weds and it looked like he was hitting some seriously nice loops and I think Mark has infected him with the world of casting!   I am hoping to be doing some guided river fly fishing with him next week too….please stop raining!

I got a mail from Jo who seems to be nailing salmon on the Exe this year and I spoke to my friend Michael the other night who used to live right on the Torridge. The guy who bought his house is a dead keen salmon fisherman and hadn’t touched one all season until last Saturday where he had 5 and lost one he reckoned was in the high teens. It is really nice when all those hours of hard work pay off.

Below Jim Evans on Weds.


If it wasn’t for….

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

I’m not trying to get all mushy or sentimental here but there are moments when you look back that are milestones or landmarks that somehow shape your life and help point you in the direction that your heart is telling you to go.

In this case it is books. Usually I am out on the water in some way but I do like to sit down and read a book. Hardly surprisingly they are usually fishing related. I do own a fair few fishing books but most are “about” fly fishing rather than “how to” fly fish. There is never substitution for being out there and learning!

The first is Trout Bum by John Gierach. The stories are fantastic and are not about how many caught but about enjoying the company of friends and life in general. I love the speed and pace of John’s life and especially reading about the trips and characters that he spends time on the water with. I have tried to apply a little of his philosophies to my life and they fit in pretty well. I have also been lucky to fish on quite a few of the rivers that he has fished including his home water the St Vrain in Lyons. Even luckier I have met and fished with some of his buddies from the books and although he was out of town when I was over I got a good feel of what the place was about. One of the highlights for me was having breakfast in Lyons where I have read he likes to eat. The waitress on hearing a strange accent got talking to Ray and I and we told her we were over for the fishing. She said had we met “John the fisherman”? We said we heard he was out of town but I kind of liked it as I am known as Pete the fisherman in my little village!

 The other book is the Pursuit of Wild Trout by Mike Weaver. I remember this book turning up from Coch Y Bondhu books and as ever it was beautifully packaged in brown paper. I devoured the book from cover to cover and I knew Devon was where I wanted to head due to the wealth of wild trout fishing that is available down here. I am not sure that I have ever admitted this to Emma but I did have maps out when we were house hunting looking for the best spot that would allow easy access to rivers from both of the Moors! I have also had the pleasure of fishing with Mike and was out with him on the Taw on Thursday and always enjoy watching the maestro in action.

I never tire of both of these books and have read both on many occassions and always pick up a new nugget that helps my fishing or just life in general.

Pic below of Mark and David who is a newcomer to fly fishing but will no doubt be doing a whole lot more in the future!


Let There Be Life

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Yesterday was a good day for lots of reasons but mainly because we had some really nice fish turn up from Milemead Fish Farm to put in our lake. We went for a mixture of browns and rainbows to keep things interesting.

Paul at Milemead knows his stuff and the quality of his fish is excellent. No stumpy tails or worn pectorals just excellent looking specimens and if they fight like they look anyone who hooks one is in for a treat.


All of the fish swam out strongly and we watched them equalise their swim bladders after coming from the confines of the tank into deeper water. Jax and I watched them being unloaded and we were planning the summer evenings after work where we’ll all have a BBQ and a bit of fishing.

Only 9 days til the rivers open down here in Devon and Mark and I have the day off and have planned our venue. We have decided to fish a dry fly whatever conditions as we thought it would be fun and we’ll see if it pays off or not. At the moment the rivers are at an OK level so we might be in with a shout….