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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Fly Fishing in Devon pt2

Graham wrote an interesting blog regarding the difference between the fly fishing he does back home in the South East and the fly fishing down here in Devon. With fishing generally it is a matter of you sometimes having to adjust your style of fishing to match your location. As he writes below having to alter your strike speed is a perfect example but I always think that if the fundamentals are in place and you have got your fly to your target and the fish has taken then a large part of the job is done.  It is simply a case of fine tuning the last part to make everything click.

Al having a lesson on our trout lake

Al having a lesson on our trout lake

For me fly fishing is about the art of deception and it never fails to amaze me how we tie a fly made from fur and feather that we think a trout might be feeding on, tie it to the end of our leader, cast it to the fish and he thinks it IS food. Sometimes they stick, sometimes they come off. I can honestly say I don’t think I have ever been haunted by a lost fish but ask me at the end of my fishing career and you might just hear a different story.

Anyway, over to you Graham

Richard with one of several he caught on a dry

Richard with one of several he caught on a dry

Being based in the “soft” Southern part of the country it is always interesting to compare and contrast with other parts when the opportunity arises. Last weekend I was able to do that when Pete asked if I wanted to help with a large group he and Mark were looking after and then do a bit of fishing thereafter. Naturally I thought about it, discussed it with my family, relatives, neighbours and friends and after putting it to vote, hesitatingly agreed. So on the Saturday I fished my local water which is the Lea in Herts which is a narrow relatively slow moving chalkstream stocked with predominately browns of circa 2-2.5lbs. The reason for this is we are next to a SSSI and there are quite a few cormorants that particularly enjoy sub 2lb brownies. It is also frequented by many bird twitchers and woe betides us if we were to apply some cormorant preventative measures! We also over winter the fish and some are rather large and wise but in the correct conditions can be caught. We have a mayfly hatch but outside that fly life is sparse and thus, although I am first and foremost a dry fly addict, have to resort to the nymph at times. This was the case on Saturday. Water clarity was pretty good on account of lack of recent precipitation and it was possible to spot some fish. The general approach here is to use very small (#16) lightly leaded grhe or some variant like nymph, cast about 3 feet in front, let it drift down and when just in front lift slightly. This usually prompts a response. If all goes correct a large gob opens, slowly closes and as if in slow motion you raise the rod and we have contact. No lightning reflex action is necessary. This was the case on Saturday and it was a pleasant outing.

Roll-on Sunday and what a difference a few hundred miles can make. Mid afternoon saw Pete and I waving our group of guests goodbye and sped off to the Bray for a few hours. Weather was nice and there was quite a lot of fly-life with grannom showing and some olives. We started off with just a dry klinkhammer and although there was very little surface activity I managed to raise a couple and miss them with style! So we switched to a New Zealand with a small gold bead about 2 feet below. Pete quickly hooked 2 fish and upon giving me the rod I managed to hook several trees in succession – I’m sure they reach out to capture the flies! I eventually caught a small brownie and then lost fish after fish after fish. I give the rod to Pete and he promptly catches a nice one. I get the rod back and promptly lose the two flies and so diplomatically call it a day

Apart from the fact I can’t catch Devon fish to save my life what do I make of this? Well apart from the fact that these Devon fish could dart into and out of a Lea trout’s mouth before he could close it and foliage avoidance is as much a challenge as catching the fish it’s all down to surroundings. The Lea meanders through flattish terrain and the fish are so large they have little in the way of predators and so fishing is more gentle and everything slows down to reflect the surroundings and quarry. Whereas Devon streams are faster chuckling entities with lots of canopy cover and populated with nervous critters who dart away at any unusual movement. The fish have to eke out a life and will engulf and reject a fly as fast as Usain Bolt can sprint. Hence ones approach to Devon has to be quite different to the South and it takes a while to acclimatise (well that’s my excuse anyway!)

What do I prefer? Actually I enjoy both but perhaps not in the same weekend!


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