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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Archive for September, 2009

Fly Fishing Guide

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

I love being a fly fishing guide on my beloved Taw but it is always good to spread your wings from time to time and seek out some new and exciting fishing.Not only for yourself but also for your guests, so that you can always offer them a new fly fishing adventure. I call the trips I make fact finding missions just to make sure everything is as I hope it will be if I take my guests there!

I was lucky enough to have Alan and Pam back with me for 3 days of guided fishing and they were keen to take another look at some chalkstream fishing . We had met up in June to do something similar and I decided to show them some other venues. I think they worked out pretty well and we were lucky enough to hit some really, really good fishing. There were even a few Mayfly making a late appearance that the fish took advantage of along with some Blue Winged Olives and more Caddis than you could shake a stick at. With low water levels we were able to bring fish up to have a look at dries and depending on tempratures and the amount of bugs hatching we varied sizes of flies from 24 up to 12.


The thing I really like about guiding on the chalkstreams is that you can spot the fish and we had great fun stalking our targeting fish and landing a fly in just the right spot to see if we got the desired response. Pam is an amazing spotter of fish and it was great seeing her spot a pod of grayling and expertly pick them off one by one!


We had a great 3 days with lots of laughs (usually at my expense!) and caught a few fish along the way. Alan has a great target in that he likes to try and learn something new each day he is on the water and I think we managed to make that happen.


We have had plenty of visitors of late and we are always touched when we recieve a mail back from guests telling us that they have had a good time with us. It is things like this that spur us on even more to provide the best fly fishing experience we can . On that front keep an eye out for what we have planned for the 2010 season as we have some really exciting things already arranged, but never wanting to rest on our laurels we are just tying up the last few extra things to ensure you have great, new and interesting options available to you for fly fishing tuition and guiding in Devon. We will unveil everything in due course but needless to say we are hugely excited!

A few comments from our guests

wanted to say thank you for the time that you spent with us on Tuesday and for your
continued help thru the rest of this week. Whilst we tried our best to prize a salmon
out of the Taw without any success, I know that everyone had a cracking time.
Thanks again for everything.
All the best
A note to thank you for Sunday. I had an excellent day and look forward to
our next meeting.


Just to thank you again for all you did for me and Roger in introducing us to both the Taw and to night fishing for sea trout.
You could not have been more helpful, informative or enthusiastic and it was all most enjoyable and greatly appreciated.

Very best wishes,


The Man in the Hat

Friday, September 11th, 2009

I met up with Nick on Sunday who was heading off on a fishing trip and wanted a few pointers with his casting and then wanted to hit the river and pick up some hints for rivercraft too. The really nice thing though was that he was keen just to have fun. I think we managed that and he caught a few too. This was despite the river still being a little on the murky side after all the rain but it was starting to clear down and we just about hit it right. Being Sunday meant that we were able to sneak a few beef sandwiches as the Hotel has a carvery.



Monday I was meeting up with Lindsay. He had contacted us and wanted to get to grips with fly fishing the rivers of Devon and to go in search of some salty stuff too. We covered some casting on some stillwater and then hit the river. We fished a nice section of the Hotel’s water and he got to grips with the Taw really quickly.


More fish followed and we moved to another beat in the afternoon where we came across some rising fish under some nasty low branches. No worries for Lindsay. He cast the Helios into the right spot and the fish liked our fly selection. It was a great day and we could see the water was coming into really good shape but with settled weather coming we opted for bass on Wednesday.

Tuesday I wasn’t with Lindsay as I had a booked casting session with Hannah for a little help with how to approach the beat she was going to be fishing. Hannah fishes the Frome and was new to spate rivers but when I saw her in the evening the big smile said she had done well! Funnily enough she is fishing The Test next week and I am up guiding up there next week so will no doubt be bumping into her in the Orvis store in Stockbridge! Tuesday afternoon was with Mike, Jenny, Alan, Alec and Roger who were on their second visit down to the Taw and wanted some casting tips and approaches to the water. It was really good fun and they have a great sense of humour and there was plenty of ribbing going on. The casting session was pretty much an open floor with them shouting a cast and me demonstrating it and then breaking it down to show them how it works. I’d then get one of them to come and try it.  I could see they were itching to fish so we did just that!

Wednesday I was back with Lindsay and we did some casting in the morning where we played with distance and really got his double haul going nicely and discussed drift and its impact on the cast. We grabbed a quick lunch and hit the salt. It was great fun and we hit the water early and found fish skulking around. I won’t forget seeing Lindsays face when a really, really nice bass slapped his clouser and headed off to the horizon. I’m not sure who was the most surprised but it was a real treat. Needless to say it was a nice one!

Thursday was a salmon day and we were hopeful as both Hannah and the group I had Tues afternoon had all seen salmon. We covered spey casting with a single hander first and it was really interesting as Lindsay comes from an engineering background and was really interested in the mechanics of the cast and was asking some great questions and we enjoyed talking anchor points!

We had beat 6 and as the water was coming down pretty quickly I though it might be a good spot as we had Bridge Pool by the salmon ladder. Mike, one of the group of 5 I’d had earlier on in the week, had a pull there on Tuesday and Lindsay thought he might have connected but that was the closest we got. By lunch we had bright sunshine and a rapidly falling river. It looked like a trout session in the afternoon and so after a steak sandwich we hit the bootm of Beat 6 and worked our way up.


Today we hit Beat 2 in the morning and did some small stream stuff in the afternoon with lighter lines. The morning was slower as it had been a cold, clear night but Lindsay winkled out a few fish and it was a testament to his skill with a fly rod as it wasn’t easy. The afternoon was a different story and with good numbers of caddis coming off the fish loved our dry. We got hit by something very tasty as the leader just popped when Lindsay struck and whatever was attached shot off. It was a great day!

I’ve named the blog after Lindsay, the man in the hat! Apparently he has Welsh ancestry and it sort of showed as we left for the day!!


So here is to the Man in the Hat!

River Taw Trout

Friday, September 4th, 2009

I often say to newcomers to fly fishing rivers that if you can catch one of our brownies you’ll be able to catch them pretty much anywhere. Our fish are all wild, cunning and have been to the school of hard knocks and, when hooked, know how to play dirty.

This makes my job both challenging and interesting and has been tough but hugely rewarding of late as the river has been pretty low . It is this sort of thing that makes me keep coming back for more every time and being on the water most days lets me see the constant changes and moods of the river as conditions continually alter.

I was with Richard on Monday and he continued his excellent tally of fish and is now a light line convert. I think he left exhausted but happy and he had an extra 1/2 day tacked onto the 2 days we had spent together and as I was teaching a 1/2 day of that afternoon with Steve and Noleen we arranged to meet him for a bit of lunch. It turned out that we had a bit of a fisherman’s corner over lunchtime as Faure had come back to fly solo on the river and Peter who I was guiding Wednesday and Thursday had just arrived so we all sat down and talked fishing along with Steve and Noleen who had also just arrived. I know Faure was here with his girlfriend this time for a couple of days but sadly I don’t think Vicky got to see him much as he was out on the river just about every second he could!

Steve and Noleen were keen to learn to cast and have a try on the river. We had a great time and even had a few fish which was a great testament to how quickly they picked things up.


Wednesday I was out with Peter. Peter has fly fished lakes and wanted to try his hand at river fishing. He also wanted me to take a look at his casting but that didn’t take long. He had been taught by his father and was a really nice caster. As the weather was about to turn we hit the water and he was soon into fish. His adjustment from still to moving water was remarkable and we were soon into fish. After lunch the rain got heavier and then rained some more. The river was starting to colour and rise so at 4.30 he thought that would be it for the day. No way! I headed to a beat that is a little shallower and actually needed a bit of water to make it more comfortable for the trout. We decided to pop a larger dry on as I find this can make it stand out and encourage trout to hit it. I also find that trout seem to be aware that the river is rising and colouring which will mean that feeding opportunities might be  lesser than normal conditions so they are more keen to take  advantage. There was also a small break in the rain that meant air pressure had risen a small amount and brought on a modest hatch of Blue Winged Olives.


I got up yesterday morning fearing the worst and drove to a few spots looking to see if there was some fishable water before heading to the Hotel. It wasn’t to be, but Peter and I had talked about the possibility of bass instead so I had gear ready and when I met up with him we decided to have a look. I think we both knew that the wind was going to be a factor but we were determined to see just in case. As we saw the Taw estuary though our worst fears were confirmed and the white horses told us everything we thought might happen. We turned round and headed back. It was a real shame but I am sure there will be other times!

Good to see President Obama is a fly fisherman and I am really pleased he decided not to go for the Putin look when fishing (topless and airbrushed!) It would be interesting to see if our leader would opt for a go but I suspect he has just a little too much on his plate right now and I wonder with his current popularity that it might put some sort of jinx on fly fishing!