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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Archive for July, 2009

Fly Fishing Instructor

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

I was talking to Karl the other day. We were talking about being a fly fishing instructor and the role he or she plays in the whole learning process. We agreed that it is really important that the instructor holds the rod as little as possible and only takes it to display a cast or to show a point. It is even more so when I am guiding. I will barely touch the rod at all and again it will only be to show a cast if my guest asks and the important thing is not to throw that demonstration cast into a fishing spot. I will generally throw it down stream or well away from where my guest might be looking to cast next. There would be nothing worse than hooking a fish!

When the Dude and I were in NZ we had a guide for a day to get into some nice water. I never say what I do for a living but I had met the guy over here on a professional basis so he knew and I said I don’t mind at all if you want to fish. Barry wouldn’t have any of it and told a story of him hooking the only fish of the day a fair few years back and he said he would never do it again. I feel the same. I take the view that it is my guest’s day of fishing, not mine and so I agree with Barry and will never fish as well no matter how much I am asked…and I am too!

Anyway, Karl called me back a couple of hours after our first conversation and said he had just been reading a Lefty Kreh book and read the section on being an instructor. There was a great quote in there saying that a good instructor shares knowledge and doesn’t show it. I think that sums things up pretty well.

I am looking for a spare day and good weather to try out my latest toy. I love light line fishing and have just got in and my new 1 weight fly rod has turned up.

Fly Fishing Lessons

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

I’ve actually been away from giving fly fishing lessons for a couple of days as I was in Athens with the family for some cultural stuff. Thankfully my daughter Charlie takes after her mother and is pretty smart and is into studying Classics. This meant a trip to Greece was a good idea to see stuff up close and personal. We did various tours and the thing that struck me the most was how civilised the ancient Greeks were. Several hundred years BC and they invented democracy and understood what grown up behaviour is all about. I think many, including our politicians could learn a bit about this. Even their plays didn’t involve murder or violence. They might have alluded to it but nothing violent was ever shown. Perhaps another lesson could be learnt?  The other thing that stuck in my mind was that the Greeks were fighting the Ottoman Empire who were holed up high at the Acropolis. Apparently the Turks were getting low on ammo and were taking whatever metals they could from the ancient site to make bullets. The Greeks got wind of this and rather than have their treasured site ransacked they waved a white flag, met with the opposition and agreed to give the Turks ammunition on the basis that they took nothing more from the site! I think that was probably a step too far but I guess you can see what I am getting at?


Anyway, back to fishing, it looks like we have had some rain in the 3 days I have been away. It sort of started Sunday when I took out David and Jan for a casting tune up. This went really well and previously Jan had been lacking confidence when it came to the casts and approaches for various fishing situations she had previously faced. By the end of it she was grabbing the rod wanting to try the next thing I had shown her! David is a good fisherman but hopefully picked up a few tips to help him catch a few extra fish. I am due to meet them tonight for some sea trouting but I have left 100 degree heat in Athens for rain and thunder back here. We’ll see how it goes!

Good luck to Jo and Lyn who are hoping to make their first solo trip on the river having spent time with us. We’re waiting to hear all of the details!

I have added some new bits to the Latest News page.

Previous Fly Fishing Lessons blogs.



A few messages from happy guests of our fly fishing school

Hi Pete

thanks again for a truly wonderful day’s fishing. You taught me so much that I had to write it all down as soon as I got home so that I would not forget it !  I hope that we will be fishing together soon.
Best wishes

 Thanks so much Pete.
Thoroughly enjoyed my 3 days on the Taw even if the fish are not quite so big as those in New Zealand!  Still lots of fun.
Take care.

Hi Pete had a fantastic day and learned a great deal and will keep you informed of my progress.
                  Kind regards Treeve.

Pete, thank you for helping us through and replacing flies when needed.  Your expertise was much appreciated and it was good to learn from a master of his trade.

 Best wishes and thank you again.





Fly Fishing in Devon

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Heinz and Daniel joined us for a day’s fly fishing down here in Devon. They were over from Austria and the first thing I noticed was that Daniel, at 14, spoke perfect English. I was pleased as my Austrian is a little rusty!


Heinz is a very keen fly fisher who likes to fish small streams at home and after talking for just a short time over a coffee I could see we were in for a good day. Daniel had an aim, which he was hoping to make come true, that he would catch a trout on a fly. I was going to do my best to try and make this happen.

Daniel had not really cast a fly rod before but was a natural and was soon casting a nice loop. Clearly taking after his Dad he was keen to hit the river and that was just what we did. I showed him how to wade safely and a few of my favourite river casts and we started.

Sometimes putting a newcomer in front of moving water can be a little intimidating and I had given this some thought. A week previously my good friend Karl had been down for a couple of days where we had fished long and hard for trout and sea trout. Karl is an amazing fisherman and can tempt fish where you think they won’t be or shouldn’t be! He fishes the Welsh Dee a fair bit and likes to fish spider patterns a fair bit. I have played with them a bit and sat and watched him fish a few pools and picked up some great tips. He is also one of the best tyers around and kindly sent me way too many of his favourite patterns. I happened to have some with me so tied them on for Daniel and explained how we would fish the pool in front of us.

It didn’t take long for Daniel’s dream to come true and a small brownie was on the end of the line. We continued fishing this way with Heinz fishing a dry and nymph upstream. I happened to pop downstream to see him as he was playing a lively 11 incher. I offered to take a photo of the fish for him but he cares a lot for them and wanted to get it back quickly. I like that!


The pattern of picking up fish continued and although it wasn’t a fish a cast it was pretty consistent. As we had moved further up to a new pool I changed Heinz’ rig a little making the dropper a little longer and the flash back pheasant tail a little heavier. The reason for this was that the day before I had been guiding Nick over from NZ and we had picked up a small sea trout on a dry and moved a nicer fish on a nymph.

He expertly made a cast into the right spot and moved a fish straight away but sadly missed it. We waited a bit and made another cast and this time the dry dipped and Heinz was attached to an acrobatic sea trout of around 3lb. He had him on for a while but the fish managed to wrap him around a rock and was gone. It was fun though!

Daniel had been going great guns and picked up another few fish and was really liking this fly fishing thing. Looks like I’ll be using spiders a whole lot more!!

The rivers are shot today and I was due to be out with Dave from Portland, a regular at the school, but sadly it wasn’t to be. I was out guiding Mike for some guided sea trout fishing last night and we had to head back at midnight as the river started to rise and colour up. It means I have been able to see a little bit of the Ashes but I’d rather be on the river!

I’ve been playing with a few new parachute patterns now that we are getting blue winged olive and light olive hatches and even the odd sea trout seem to approve.

Lots happening and keep an eye on the Latest News  page of the main website for an update.

A day’s fly fishing in Devon

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

I’ve been meaning to write this blog for a bit but for some reason I haven’t got around to it yet.  I guess that the old memory isn’t as good as it used to be!

It was the end of June and I had a realised that despite being on the river every day I hadn’t actually been fishing myself for trout for over a month. I though I’d better do something about it and had a 1/2 day of fly fishing tuition but I was free in the afternoon.

I’d decided to head to a bit of the Taw I hadn’t fished for a bit and rigged up. The water was low and clear and it is always nice to quietly step into the river and see a fish rise. As ever I had the two fly set up of a dry and bead head nymph hung just below. I picked up a few fish and continued to head upstream.


I headed to a spot that I figured might hold some fish as it was a nice run carrying oxygenated water to any fish that might be holding there. I hooked into a small one pretty quickly and then saw what I initially thought was a rock move and have a pop at the little fella as I brought him in. I thought this might have caused the “rock” to shoot off but as I released my fish I watched him resume his position. I was a little surpised to see him hold where he was as it was in 8 inches of water, in an open lie and bright sunshine!

I watched him for a bit and he was just happily sitting there. It didn’t look like he was feeding so I was going to have to get my fly right in front of him and make it worth his while. The first cast was too far to the right and he didn’t even give it the time of day. Next cast was right on the money and I watched the nymph go right over him and the dry slowly slid down. As I lifted I felt my little 2 weight bend over and he was on. The fish headed upstream but I managed to horse him down towards me. We both got a good, close look at each other and seeing him let me know I was attached to a trout and not a sea trout. Seeing me was enough for him to surge downstream and he tried to head for the safety of an undercut bank. Applying as much side pressure as I dared I kept him out and thought he was heading my way when out of the blue the hook hold came loose and he was gone.

I stood silently for a few moments, I would have loved a closer look at him and the chance of a photo but it was not to be. I remembered something I said to a guest the other day that there was no point mourning a lost fish too much as it ends up eating away at you. I know we all have one lost fish story and this might just be my one as it was up there with the biggest fish I have caught from the river Taw but I just reeled in, smiled and headed off home.

Read about a fly fishing away from Devon

Mia’s first fly fishing lesson!

Friday, July 10th, 2009

My good friend Ray, AKA the Dude, took his daughter Mia for her first fly fishing lesson and it looks like she is taking after her Dad.

Ray has written about it all below..

 My six year old daughter Mia had a day off school this week.  As her mother was working, I asked her if she wanted to spend the day fishing with her father.  She eagerly said yes, much to my delight, and we set off to Manningford Fishery.

Now I’m a wild trout, catch and release, upstream dry fly type of angler, and like most fishing fathers I fantasize about watching my daughter growing up fishing alongside me.  Today was that all important first day to expose her to fly fishing.  Most of all Iwanted Mia to have a fun day, but I knew that the only thing that would matter to her would be to catch a fish.  I was quietly desparate for everything to go well.

As I got the rod set up, she carefully searched through my fly box for the right pattern.  We had discussed a great many fishing related things during the half hour drive to the fishery, including what fish eat.  After much thought, she chose a size 16 bead head ptn.  So far so good.

We agreed that I would cast and she would retrieve.  The nine foot, six weight outfit was ridiculously big for her, but she gamely rested the butt of the rod on her tummy and stripped line with her left hand while holding the rod with her right hand.  She declined my offer of help to support the rod.  Good girl,I thought.

After only a few casts, the fishing gods smiled upon us and she hooked a fish.  After a brief struggle, the fish came off, but she was excited and anxious to “try and catch him again”.  She hooked another, netted it, gave it a few spirited blows with the priest, and played with it in the water before we headed to the pub for lunch. 

The fishing wasn’t as good after lunch, but just before we headed home she hooked another.  It broke her off, and I figured it was a good time to call it quits.  It left her with the feeling of wanting to come back and “try and catch him again”.  We ate the fish that Mia caught for dinner that night, a fitting end to that all important first day.

Thanks Dude and really well done Mia!




Devon Fly Fishing Guide

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

I love being a fly fishing guide down here in Devon, the variety of fishing we have makes every day I spend on the water different from the day previously. Yesterday was a good example. I met up with Paul who has been a great supporter of what we are trying to do down here. I had spoken to him a couple of days before and we had discussed our plan of action. It was originally going to be trout based and we had touched on Dartmoor but the change in weather meant heading up high was not going to be as much fun as it might have been in the more settled conditions we have had of late.

As I do every morning I poked my head over the bridge and checked things out, I’d spoken to Paul and we had decided to base ourselves on the Taw for the day. The river was looking just about right for salmon and I bumped into Bob from the EA who was having a look too. The bridge at Eggesford is a great spot for fish to hold but I didn’t see anything move in the short time I was there. It was more of a scout to make sure we were fishable more than anything else.

I met with Paul and as we got our waders on came in the Hotel car park  Bob drove in to say he had seen a salmon and to wish us luck so that sort of made our minds up as to what we would try first. Paul hasn’t tried this sort of fishing before and took to it like a duck to water. The pool isn’t easy to fish but he did a great job.  Sadly the salmon didn’t want to play ball so we decided on lunch and then to head down stream a bit to one of the lower beats to fish for some trout and a final throw for salmon.

Despite there being some colour still, the trout were obliging and I knew there were also some smaller sea trout (peal) about and a couple of which Paul hooked but they didn’t want to stay on. We finished off casting into a great pool for salmon but although they weren’t biting we had a great time and I loved it as I got the chance to show Paul something a bit different and something a bit varied too.

I hate my job!

Other Devon Fly Fishing Guide Blog

Fly Fishing Lessons

Monday, July 6th, 2009

I had some ladies pop down for some fly fishing lessons the other day. They wanted to learn how to cast and how to fish. It has got me thinking about all this stuff about ladies and fishing. I’m not one of those who believes in pheromones but just simply that ladies are more laid back and if a fish comes by and takes then that is good news but no worries if it doesn’t. I might be wrong and the scents a lady gives off might cause a fish to bite but would it cause both female and male fish to act the same?

When it comes to casting the more relaxed approach certainly works as the whole casting process gets screwed up if we have an iron like grip on the rod. The other good thing is that ladies don’t have the same strength as us fellas and so quickly realise that the rod is a pretty good tool for sending our fly out to the fish than sheer muscle!


It was great seeing everyone throwing a nice loop and also understanding what a nice loop was and what you needed to do to get one. We always maintain that if you know what is happening and why, then you can always understand what has happened when the cast hasn’t gone to plan. Most of all though it is about having some fun and I think the ladies had that!

Other blogs about Fly Fishing Lessons