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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Archive for February, 2009

What does it mean to you?

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

I was talking to my good pal and fishing buddy Toby about a grayling trip on Friday and we got talking about opening day and what he would be doing. He has even jotted a few words down about his plans which I hope you’ll enjoy!

Over to you fella….


I love this time of year. The cold days of winter are subsiding and the nights are getting 
shorter, Spring flowers are starting to peep through with snowdrops 
and daffodils dancing in the wind. Birds are becoming more active and daytime temperatures are starting 
to   rise but the main reason I love this time of year is the 
anticipation of the new fishing season.

Traditionally for me the start of my reservoir season happens on Chew 
Valley with a bunch of guys from the complete fisher forum meeting up 
very early on open day on the bank like excited school children 
talking about the day ahead.

Now for anyone who knows me I am a bit of a tackle tart and usually I 
have a new piece of tackle or two floating around to test out on open 

This year is no different !

Yesterday I was playing around with my new toy; a Scott S4 9ft 6″ 7# 
and I must say what a nice rod it is.

Casting with a SA GPX 7# line the rod and line worked in great harmony 
and I can’t wait to give it a proper thrashing on the 16th March.

Now anyone who fishes Chew will know that there are quite a few pike 
in the lake and when fishing deep as you often have to on open day, you 
invariably hook a pike or two on your trout flies.
Well I have a cunning plan.
I will also have set up a pike fly fishing outfit ready to out smart 
out toothy friend.

For fishing off the bank this season I will be using a St Croix Legend 
rod  in a 8# matched with a very special reel a Abel Super 8 in 
Pike graphic.

The great thing with the rod is its got so much power to play the pike 
quickly but its so smooth and really helps cast the big flies you need 
to use for catching our toothy friends.

So roll on 16th of march I’m ready and waiting.

In between now and then I plan to get out on the rivers a couple of 
times after grayling before the season closes for them and am looking 
forward to going out Friday on my local river, The Tone.

I helped bank clearing last weekend on one of my favourite beats of 
the Taunton Fly Fishing Club waters and the river should be in fine fettle for Friday so I 
can’t wait.

Edit – me neither and by the way,yes, you are a tackle tart!- Pete

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Sight Fishing by the Dude

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009


   About a month before we were scheduled to depart to New Zealand, I had laser surgery to correct my short sightedness.  I had long wanted to escape the tyranny of glasses, but losing my only pair of prescription polarized sunglasses prior to the trip forced me into action.  After spending a small fortune on the surgery and two new pairs of shades, I was ready to sight fish those big New Zealand browns.
    Pete, who long ago had laser surgery and is used to spotting fish while guiding, was the first to spot a fish.  “See him?” he said.  I looked into the water but could only see rocks.  “Over there.  See the shadow over the rocks?” he said patiently while pointing to the fish.  I got behind him and followed his finger and saw more rocks.  I was starting to get annoyed with the laser surgeon for not being able to sight fish.  The consultation, surgery, aftercare appointments, the excitement of getting my new shades – all a waste of time and money!
    And so it went for the first day or two.  The only fish I saw were the ones that I had spooked out of their lies.  This was frustrating since one can walk a quarter mile, half mile or even longer between fish.  Blind casting into likely spots, which I am accustomed to, was more likely to put down fish than catch them.  Fortunately on the third day I was starting to spot fish and I improved as the trip went on.  Here’s some things I learned:
    One of the biggest advantages in spotting fish is height.  The higher above the water you are, the less reflection, refraction and distortion you experience.  The downside is that you expose yourself more to the fish so it’s important that you have good cover behind you.  Sections of many rivers, like the Eglinton outside Te Anau, flow through trees so it’s easy to stay hidden and even see into shadows without putting fish down. 
    Another advantage is knowing where to look for fish.  Big fish are used to having large areas to themselves, but most of the time they are in predictable spots:  at the tails of pools, in the shade, behind structure, where flow enters, etc.  I occassionally spooked fish that weren’t in these types of lies, but the alternative – thoroughly scanning large areas – wasn’t productive.
    Pete and I found that the most effective way to sight fish was to slowly walk upriver on opposite banks.  Sometimes the terrain wouldn’t allow this, but working as a team and seeing the river from different perspectives increased our chances of spotting fish.  We met an American guy who was fishing by himself who was struggling and we felt a little sorry for him. 
    Teamwork wasn’t just limited to sighting fish.  It also helped with fly selection, the right set up, landing fish, etc.  If you are going to New Zealand, go there with a fishing buddy.  You’ll sight more fish and have someone to share the experience with.
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Desert Island Fly Fishing Books

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

If you are a dedicated fly fisher, it is closed season and you have tied up all the flies that you need then the next best thing is to sit down with a book and read about someone else going fly fishing. I own plenty of “how to” books but personally I find reading about other peoples fly fishing experiences the next best thing to being there myself. I went and had a look at the large collection of books I own and thought which ones would I take with me if I had to spend a long time away from fishing and couldn’t go myself. They are in no particular order and are a few that if you haven’t already read might be of interest.

Wisdom of the Guides– Paul Arnold talks to a number guides based out in the Rocky Mountains about how they approach fly fishing.

Knee Deep In Montana’s Trout Streams– John Holt takes us to some of his favourite fly fishing holes in Montana. V witty.

Hooked- Fly Fishing Through Russia– Fen Montaigne travels Russia with a fly rod. Not just about fishing but also how tough life can be out there.

Confessions of a Fly Fishing Addict– Nick Lyons in his usual amusing style covers many fly fishing topics including fishing chalkstreams.

Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis– Howell Raines uses fly fishing as a metaphor for his life and growing older.

The Earth is Enough–  12 year old Harry Middleton moves in with his grandfather and uncle and learns about life and fly fishing.

Chalkstream Chronicle– Neil Patterson uproots from London and moves to his dream house on a chalkstream.

Splitting Cane– Ed Engle speaks to 16 bamboo rod makers about the hows and whys of rod making.

Cast Again– Jennifer Olsson, Montana guide, recounts days on the river. Shes a college buddy of The Dude too.

Pursuit of Wild Trout– Mike Weaver covers fly fishing in Devon along with a few of his favourite destinantions.

Trout Bum– The first book by John Gierach and his best.


Hope you enjoy!

Pete Tyjas

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First one of the season!

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

I met up with Mark, a pal from Plymouth for a bit of a pre season warm up. We just played around with some different line and rod combos and tinkered with some speys and as ever talked fishing. We were right beside the river and it was really nice just seeing everything come to life. After the lone large dark olive of yesterday it was nice to see a really healthy hatch get going. I wonder if the guy from yesterday managed to hang in there for todays action!p2200205

Try as we might though we didn’t see a lot of interest from the fish despite having a good walk along the river. We were walking downstream and I suspect this didn’t help our chances a great deal  although this is the first settled, slightly warmer weather we have had of late and it will probably take a little more of this to get them thinking about looking up a bit more. On the chalkstreams hatches of LDO’s have been a feature since Jan and the grayling and a few out of season browns have been paying more attention. I have to admit to having caught a few out of season browns but it has not been a function of targetting them just that they have put spawning behind them and are right back on the food again. All of them have been in great shape and have been fighting fit.


  As you can see from the photo on the left  it looked a wonderful spring day and while I am sitting writing this I can  feel just a tinge of where the sun has caught my face or perhaps this is wishful thinking. It certainly makes you feel a lot better! On this subject it reminded me of a corporate day Mark and I did in January this year. It was for a large company and the idea was that they would split into 3 teams, some of them would do indoor tasks and the others would do outdoor tasks. The outdoor ones consisted of sailing, rafting and fly fishing. As there was a competitive element to things I thought it would be an idea to teach the basic overhead cast with a shoot of line and then have time period to hit selected targets. As I had a load of caps we placed them down and gave each team a set time to hit as many as possible. It seemed to go down pretty well and we got some great feedback from people who had previously thought fly fishing was boring. Anyway we did the day on the 15th of Jan and I can assure you it wasn’t a nice day. There was that nasty persistent  rain and a bit of a breeze too. Thankfully we were wrapped up well but I can say the same for the guy trying rafting who placed one foot on the raft and the other on the pontoon and stood there as the raft drifted away. I didn’t get to see this happen but I did see a completely drenched soul who asked if this was the place for fly fishing. Depsite me assuring him he would get more than just a bit cold he was determined to start but there was no way I was going to teach him in that state! Ieventually took him inside as he at last realised it probably wasn’t a good idea.

It was great to see Mark and as ever he was a gentleman and turned up with my first packet of Hob Nobs for the season!





Report from the Dude

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Ray is my fishing buddy and is so relaxed I call him the “Dude” after the character of the same name in the Cohen Brothers film The Big Lebowski. He has written a few words about a day we had on a salmon river  in NZ.  It was one of those things where you read about a river and it says no one really fishes it for trout as it is known for salmon.  But it sort of gets you thinking that firstly is that because no one actually does bother fishing it for trout or is it the details you have in front of you like this to keep you for fishing for trout? We probably looked into this too deeply but when it comes to fishing I think you have to…anyway, over to you Dude…

 Pete and I were told by locals that the Rangitata “was more of a salmon river”.  When we arrived at the upper gorge section upriver of Peel Forest, it was easy to understand why:  it was a big, fast water interrupted by long, deep pools.  the water was brilliant torquoise, almost artificial in colour, because of the light reflecting off the volcanic silt collected from its headwaters.

The Dude

The Dude

 Unfortunately, the strong Northwesterly wind was blowing whitecaps in the pools and we quickly decided that we wouldn’t be able to turn over even our seven weight lines.  disappointed, we got back in the car and drove back downriver hoping to find more trout friendly water and shelter from the wind.

 We found what we were looking for, but unfortunately the section ran next to a campground that was fully booked with locals enjoying a long weekend.  We figured that the water got a good pounding but it was getting close to lunchtime and we hadn’t fished so we decided to put in.
Pete took the first pool and I took the second.  Three campers arrived shortly after us in their swim gear and positioned themselves between us.  I immediately became annoyed, but Pete later told me that the two women and one man nuded up and went swimming, so I forgave them and thought what a pleasant addition to any fishing day that would be (seeing the women, that is) provided it didn’t adversely affect the fishing.
We ended the day with two fish each, the largest around 5lbs.  Every day we fished the South Island I learned a thing or two, and here’s what I took away from our day on the Rangitata:      
    1)  Don’t dismiss a river that “was more of a salmon river” as not holding trout.  Pete and I chose the Rangitata deliberately to avoid other trout fishermen.  If you can fish the sections that the salmon fishermen avoid, you may find some trout that haven’t been fished to, even if they are next to a campground.
    2)  Fish lighter tippet than you think would be appropriate.  Although 5lb. tippet is standard for the size of fish we were catching, I fished 3lb. test for most of our trip.  The lighter tippet seemed to help with wary fish.  On big, open rivers like the Rangitata or the nearby Rakaia there aren’t many snags or other places for fish to pop you off.  My normal bias is to fish heavier than appropriate tippet to hasten the fight, but I found that quickly making my way to calm water as the fish tired was the best way to achieve a quick release. 
    3)  Always choose the first pool downriver of nude lady swimmers.