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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Archive for July, 2011

Breaking all the Barriers

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

The great thing about fly fishing is that there are no communication barriers needed to understand what a fellow fly angler is trying to say, even if they don’t speak the same language. A few nods and a look at the fly boxes is often enough to show the other person exactly what they need to know.

I was recently guiding Raphael who was over from Spain for 3 days of fishing with me. Despite what I have written above, Raphael spoke excellent English and made me slightly embarrassed that my few words of Spanish didn’t really do me proud.

We had a great time on the river and it was a real pleasure to be able to show him a nice variety of water. He was an excellent angler who covered the water perfectly and caught plenty of Devon trout.

He liked to use his flies, some of which were a little different to those I normally use, but they worked really well. So well in fact that I took a good mental note and have tied up a few as I think they will make great additions to my box. The flies are quite similar but there subtle little differences that sometimes can make the difference.

I am sure Charles Darwin would see them as a sort of natural selection of the patterns that have been slightly changed to suit their natural surroundings, or in this case trout, but it is nice to see these little alterations work here too. I know when I am tying flies that I tie a few and wonder if a slight change might work. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t but I love trying things out!

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Fly Fishing in Devon

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

I had always had this little fear that when the mayfly was over that the fish had feasted so well that it would take them time to get back into the swing of things again. Thankfully this has not happened and the fish have fed right the way through. Last year I seem to recall that it was black gnat that was the hatch that really got them going again but caddis and Blue Winged Olives have been the main hatches that the fish seem to be most interested in on the Taw.

Dave learns to fly fish a river

The caddis have been pretty heavy starting at around 11am and then stopping for a bit, starting again around lunchtime and then starting and stopping until evening. It has meant that it has looked like all you needed to do is tie on your favourite caddis pattern and go catch all the fish. If only fishing and come to think of it, life, were that easy. It hasn’t been though and just the slightest trickle of BWO’s has been lurking about in the background that has really got the fish going.

We always like to take a bit of time to watch the water but you really need to watch even more closely to see just the smallest of hints that tells you to think a bit more about the fly selection you make.

Interestingly we are still getting some pretty good numbers of mays coming off but the fish seem to just ignore them now. How is it they can gorge on these big flies and then just switch off of them? Is it just a case that you can get too much of a good thing?

I was lucky enough to be out guiding Paul last week and I know he has had a really busy time looking after his wife Margaret after an operation and project managing a house rennovation. He was dying for a day of fishing and so I took him out to cast a fly at a few fish. Despite not having the chance to get a fly rod in his hands for a bit he fished liked a demon and had plenty, including picking up a well earned sea trout. Really, really well done Paul!

Well done Paul!

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Just sometimes….

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Just sometimes everything slots into place and gives you that nice feeling that you are doing your job as a fly fishing guide as good as you hope and, more importantly, what your guest hopes too!

I was guiding Stephen who I have guided a couple of times before; the first time I guided him several years ago he managed a memorable 16 inch trout on a dry. As I am writing this I seem to remember that this was one of those hunches that worked out but that story will keep.

This time, we had picked up a few trout as a blue winged olive hatch had started to get going and we came to a spot that I have had some success with in the past. It is a place I know sea trout like to hold in. I didn’t land any from there last year, although Gavin was broken by a really big fish that snapped at a mayfly with a pretty chunky leader on. The year previously though, the best spell I had was 7 fish hooked in 3 days. Sadly not all came in but it was nice as we got them to take in bright sunshine.

So, we came to this spot and I told Stephen that it CAN be a good spot but to be honest it hadn’t produced this year but the water level had come up a tiny bit and it was worth a try. Stephen’s first cast was a little short but a small trout hit it anyway although it came off. Next cast was one the money. Right under the low branch and into the pool. “Whack!” Sea trout don’t go whack but I thought it would add to the dramatic effect!

Stephen struck and he was in to his first sea trout. It wasn’t a huge one but that didn’t matter. Land mark fish can be whatever size as they are special ones. He was over the moon and we moved up and saw a couple of larger fish move but they didn’t play ball. Stephen, there will be next time and thanks very much for your note:

“Hello Pete

Just a note to say thank you for the excellent morning and for your patience in helping me to make real progress in getting back into river fishing.

I don’t know whether or not the photos you took were any good but I should be interested to see the one of the sea trout.

Again, many thanks and I look forward to seeing you again before long.


I really enjoy guiding the “long shot” fish. I know we can catch sea trout at night and during a spate, but it is kind of neat when you can do it in bright sun and low water.

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Lessons from Fly Fishing Part 2

Friday, July 8th, 2011

I am just back from 4 days of guiding Pam and Alan on a Dorset chalkstream. I sort of know the water from a trip in the distant past when I fished it with my good friend Ray (The Dude) a few years back.

I really like these trips on waters I am not so familiar with as it test me as a guide and fishing chalkstreams also allows me to work on the fish spotting skills which I thoroughly enjoy. It is good for a guide to do this every now and again as it gets you thinking a little more and lets you work on honing your skills on a water you might not know so well.

"nice cast Alan, this could be the one"

It can sometiimes be easy to tie on the old faithfuls that work at home but they might not do the business on a different water. I am a firm believer that a guide doesn’t have supernatural skills as to when fish are biting but they simply read and analyse the conditions and fish the water and make fly selections accordingly. Guiding is about showing your guests why you are changing your flies or why you are changing the setup a bit, not gazing into the distance and muttering something about a special feeling or saying that your big toe is throbbing and the fish are coming on the feed…well, thats my view!

Pam does the business

I want my guests to be able to see why conditions have changed and then if they are fishing alone they have a really good idea of some things that might work to tip the scales in their balance.

Another fish for Alan

Anyway, the trip was a great one and Pam and Alan, as always,  fished beautifully and caught plenty of fish.  We had a mixture of bright sunshine followed by rain on the last day but it was great fun!

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