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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Archive for January, 2010

A fishing life is hard work….

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

A good friend lent me a book the other day that he thought might be of interest to me. It is called ” A fishing life is hard work” I don’t know if you have read it or not but is pretty quite eye opening. It is about a guy who worked in the fishing industry and fell out of love with fishing until he had one of those epiphany moments and things started to change.  I think it got bad as it was at the stage where he would drive over a bridge and not peer over…man, that’s bad!

I often worry I am going to lose the truck in the river when I drive over a bridge and try that tricky move of driving and watching the river. I have been know to stop on a bridge and get out for a quick look which, although tends to happen on quieter roads has made me unpopular with other road users. I think they just don’t get it or perhaps they have fallen out of love with fishing.

I am often asked if it is difficult turning your favourite pastime into a business and after a fair time now I can say no. If it is ever the case this changes then it is time to move on but how could you tire of seeing a stunning caddis hatch or watch one of your pupils make a cast that brings the big boy up for the fly?

If you are under the illusion that as a guide you go fishing every day or you are aching to grab the rod from your guest and make the cast then it could probably be the worst job in the world!

I met with Darren, Nick and Lance yesterday for a 1/2 day of  flycasting tuition. Nick and Darren are relatively new to fly fishing but had a really good grounding and along with Lance an insatiable thrist for knowledge. It is great when you have people so keen and they picked things up really quickly. This meant we could cover lots of topics and go into mechanics a little more deeply. I was amazed how controlled they were given the amount of rising fish there were on the lake!


They stayed on for a fish for the rest of the day and I hope the things we covered helped just a little bit. I found out it was Darrens birthday so a very happy one Darren, I hope you caught a big one!  Fly Fishing Tuition and Guide in Devon

NZ, Klinks and Speys

Monday, January 18th, 2010

The great thing about fly fishing, for me anyway, is there are so many different aspects to it that make you keep coming back for more. There are so many variables that mean nothing is ever quite the same and there is always a new challenge awaiting either a day on the river or lake. I am sure you are the same. At the end of the day you walk away thinking about what has unfolded during the time on the water and thought “I wonder if I tie a smaller fly would it have worked better” or perhaps if I tweek my leader a bit I might have got a better turnover. It is these sorts of things that keep the discovery, or perhaps a better word is learning, process never ending.

On that front I was talking to a good friend who is off to NZ in a few days time. I sent him a few local patterns that I had including cicadas, willow grubs and some of Stu Tripneys excellent foam patterns. He asked what I had used most and it turned out it was a klinkhammer. Not because I always tie one one (in fairness it is pretty much at the top of the list) The really interesting part is that I didn’t tie it on due to force of habit. It was for a couple of reasons. Firstly having watched the fish they looked to be on emergers and secondly I thought “I wonder if they have seen this fly much?” I hadn’t read or heard much about them down there and it seemed to work pretty well for me. The other time this happened was in Colorado and it was a similar case. Is it a fly that hasn’t had a lot of exposure away from Europe? I’d be interested to know.

I went out yesterday for a practice and wanted to play with some spey casting. It was a bright morning and I fancied some music and a drive too, so I headed over to Kennick. Kennick is a 50 acre lake right in the middle of Dartmoor and is one of the prettiest places you could fish. It is well managed, has a great club and some nice guys who fish there. I don’t get to go there as often as I should but I always enjoy it. A few friends teach there and it isn’t a bad place to catch your first fish!


Anyway, the lake was almost frozen over but I found a little section of  clear water and played for a bit. I loved it and pretty much had the place to myself .  Fly fishing tuition and guide service in Devon

Fly Casting in the snow

Monday, January 11th, 2010

It feels like we have broken the back of the closed season now and I hope it isn’t wishful thinking, or me being too previous, but it feels like the opening of the season isn’t too far off. I have some work to do on the river but once the weather settles I’ll be able to crack on and get everything ready.

The good thing about this weather, if there is one, is that I have pretty much replenished the fly boxes and rows of flies are ready for action. I can’t wait!

Everything is doom gloom and bad weather right now but the good thing is that our fly fishing school is still open! Deespite there being not too many fishing opportunities here right due to everything being frozen there is still room to work on the casting ready for the new season.

Andy came down on Saturday and wanted to work on his casting a bit. He has had an operation on his casting shoulder and has been working on casting with his non dominant arm. You know what? He has done a pretty good job so far and it is all coming together really well. We covered loads and he has lots to play with. I reckon he’ll be a demon with his right arm too (he’s a lefty).


Steve saw us  Christmas week and sent us a really nice mail.


Hi Pete,

Just a quickie to thank you for your time and tuition on Friday. (Bloody cold!!) But much appreciated….. and after a practice on Sunday, the double haul is almost there, the roll cast is mastered and change of line direction is a walk in the park (believe that and you will believe anything!!)

Cheers for now

Steve  Fly Fishing Tuition and fly fishing guide in Devon

Practice makes perfect

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Well, fishing has had to take a back seat again after all the snow. I was due to go Tuesday and glad I didn’t as getting home would have been a bit hairy.

As a result I have been casting and playing with a few things. It is great to go out and throw a few loops and can be good fun to do so with a buddy too. The only downside of this is that all the good intentions tend to go out of the window and the tape measure comes out and and bit of good banter as you take it in turns to see what you are made of!

The tape measure can be sobering for the first-time distance caster as throwing a full line and a 10ft leader doesn’t actually equate to 100ft. It is quite a long way from it. I don’t tend to do this much of late as I find the body doesn’t enjoy it as much as it used to and lets face it there are few, if any, situations you are going to want to see the backing flying out of the tip ring.

I always thought this would be the case when it came to bonefishing but I have been amazed over the last few years how short a distance a bone can be caught. If anything I’d say a well presented 40 to 50ft cast will always put you in with a shout.

Up against the tape- photo by Lee Cummings

Up against the tape- photo by Lee Cummings

This is where the practice comes in, not just for winter trips somewhere exotic but getting you ready for the new season whatever you like chasing with a fly rod.

For me 15 to 20 minutes of good casts pays better dividends than going out for 2 hours and trying too hard to get it right. When I practice I’ll tilt my casting plane over to the side and have a look at my timing and loop control both hauled and unhauled. By throwing everything over to the side it becomes much more visual and allows you to see everything that is going on. I’ll then make a basic overhead cast in the normal casting plane. It is the foundations of all overhead casts and is easily overlooked. It is then I’ll play with a few Roll Casts and Speys. There are now loads of Spey Casts to play with but I’ll work on the ones that are most practical for fishing situations we encounter on the streams in Devon and the ones I teach most. I’ll then add a few mends, hooks and curves and see how it looks and see how it feels from there. If there has been something that has niggled then I’ll go back and give it a bit of work.

At our fly fishing school I’ll teach repetition (with plenty of breaks) as this helps to encourage muscle memory and when my student tries it out for the first time alone their body says “Hey, I remember this”

At the end of the day though the fish decide whether it was a good cast or not and this is what it is all about. It is nice to throw a nice loop in the field but throw in a rising fish in a tricky spot and try telling me that isn’t more exciting.

I’m not advocating to go out for everyday in the months before the seasons start. Life is just too short, but try it now again and you might be surprised the difference it makes and it is really, really good fun! Fly Fishing tuition,lessons and guide in Devon

Last of 2009

Friday, January 1st, 2010

I wanted to sneak a fish in before the new year to sort of see out 2009 and to try out, or do I mean christen, a new rod?

The weather was against us, turning cold and wet and the splashes of water on the truck as I headed off to meet a buddy told me there been a fair bit of rain overnight. I never have a doubt in my mind though, if I’m going fishing, I’m going fishing no matter what.

I really enjoy the company on the way up there, it is a couple of hours but I always enjoy chewing the fat and talking fishing. It sort of stops me from having the loud music and my appalling singing that accompanies it. It is lucky I am not self conscious as it probably looks a little strange to other drivers seeing me singing and drumming on the steering wheel although I suspect a fair few of them probably do the same.

We had a unanimous vote not to pull over for a bacon sandwich and coffee in favour of fishing. The thought had crossed my mind as traffic was light and we had made good time.

When we got there we peered over the bridge and the water was a bit lower from the last visit but still pushing. Looked like it was still a case for the heavy stuff.

We fished hard and long and there were times when I couldn’t feel a thing in my hands but didn’t care. As long as I could cast and tie a fly on I was happy!

wye dec

Darkness came and we left wet and cold but contented and we had a few too.

A very happy new year to everyone and the very best of fishing in 2010 to everyone.

www.devonschoolofflyfishing Fly Fishing Tuition and guiding in Devon