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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Posts Tagged ‘Devon Fly Fishing Instructor’

Bashing the Balsam

Friday, June 6th, 2014

The mays are hatching, we have been flat out guiding and the Himalayan Balsam season has started. We try out best to keep it under control but it seems to creep up on you.

At the start of the week I made a note that it might need some attention and then a few days later it was like the day of the triffids.


Emma and I popped down and went to work on one of the beats that suffers the most and having read Theo Pike’s excellent new book I went armed with a scythe like some sort of angling grim reaper and a lot more knowledge.

Emma at work

Emma at work

We usually just pull the stalks and Emma went for that option but Theo says it is OK to cut it as long as it is below the first node of the stalk so thats what I did. The only time I have been aware of the word node is when talking bamboo rods so it felt as though there was some sort of angling symmetry.

The grim reaper!

The grim reaper!

The Grim Reaper

The Grim Reaper

We worked hard and long and had a quick lunch at the Fox and Hounds, did some more and although the river level has dropped back there was a bit of colour so I opted for dropping a salmon fly in a few holes. I really enjoy this method of fishing rather than fishing just one pool all season. It tests my skill and knowledge as an angler and is fun too.

There has been a slight delay with Eat, Sleep, Fish as I haven’t had a chance to finish things off but it will be out soon. As a guide, and as it is the busiest time of the year, I’m not spending much time behind a computer keyboard and I doubt any other full time guides are sitting behind keyboards right now, they are out spreading the fly fishing word and the ones I have spoken to are doing just that. I’m pleased.


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Anytime soon?

Monday, February 24th, 2014

The daffodils are starting to emerge, the snowdrops are stunning and I saw three large dark olives last week.

I got up this morning and the sky was a little clearer and things feel good.

The countdown to the trout fishing season is just about underway and the rivers are starting to drop. I am probably speaking too soon but it feels like I might even get a go at some grayling this week if things stay as they are.

It is probably a big ask for this to happen but right here, right now I am feeling just the right side of optimistic.

I haven’t cast a fly for grayling since before Christmas and am starting to forget what one looks like. Hopefully this will change soon.


Emma and I were in Stockbridge at the weekend. The Test still had a big push to it and there were were still sandbags in the doorways of the houses. I’m told by Ed in the Orvis store that it didn’t make it in to the shops or houses but it was close.

We walked along the high street of the town. Although I have visited there many times we weren’t in any sort of rush. When I am usually there I am working or fishing so I am usually buying some last minute flies or meeting someone. This time I wasn’t and although the associations with Stockbridge and fishing are closely interwoven I got the chance to see just how closely from the fish shaped door knockers and weather vanes to the guy walking down the High Street talking rather loudly to a friend about the fishing at Chew and Blagdon. It certainly does pack heavy credentials when it comes to talking about it as a fishing town.

So, it feels almost spring like, I am sorting the grayling bugs and I might even get a chance to use them.

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Pete Tyjas

Just fishing?

Monday, January 20th, 2014

The phone call about the state of the river with Toby has become almost a daily event.

“It looks like it’s dropping” is usually the start of the conversation but a look out of the window gives a clue that the respite may only be a short one and the slightest crack in what may become fishable weather closes as quickly as it opened.

While talking the phone vibrates: a text. It is from Duncan asking how things are looking right now and if we’ll be able to get out soon, he already knew the answer before he texted me. We remain optimistic though. You have to don’t you?

I go back to the vice to tie some flies. I replace some that I have lost but I also like to tinker. I am always thinking about a pattern I tied or used last year, how it worked and if I could make a subtle change it a little to tip the odds a little more in my favour. Plus it is fun.


RFH calls with a report from the chalkstreams. They have had some big weather there too and although many of the chalkstreams are running crystal clear they are high. Very high.

There is some fishable water though. Jim is in from the Coln and has caught some fish. It is good to hear his report.

Toby calls again and talks about getting on a plane to find some fishable water. He, like many of my friends, are getting desperate. During the conversation I ask Emma if I have been unbearable and she politely says “no, not too bad” with a smile.


I met with Lewis and Paul at the weekend. We talked about the coming season and how we are looking forward to it. We step out into the rain and play around with the fly rod for a bit and take a look at the river.

It won’t be long now.

Pete Tyjas – Devon Fly Fishing Guide

Issue 25 of Eat, Sleep, Fish is now out Issue 26 will be out first week of Feb

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Eat, Sleep, Fish #21

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

We’re pleased to say that Issue 21 of Eat, Sleep, Fish is now out!

With fishing from Montana to the UK via Switzerland there is plenty to read.

Capture esf21

Life is too short

Friday, May 10th, 2013

A few things have happened over the last few months that have made me look at things a little differently. Life is short and it is good to enjoy as much of it as possible.

Taw trout for James

I have been promising for years now that I will do some more fishing and so far this year I have stuck to it and have had some amazing times on the water, sometimes with only me for company but also with friends. I am going to make sure this continues and do some more fishing with my contemporaries too. I do a fair bit of this already but it is a good way to bounce ideas, have a good gossip and catch a few fish too.

Another old phrase that comes easily to the lips is “I want to give something back…..” Well, I want to do this to fly fishing too. It gives me such pleasure on pretty much a daily basis and so it feels only right to try and repay that.

Taw trout for me from Monday

Eat, Sleep, Fish has allowed me to do this. As we often say, there is no hidden agenda with it. I don’t make a penny from it or ever want to. I just think the internet is a great tool for sharing information and ESF is our little way of doing so. I have been so pleased that so many people are enjoying it and something I thought might get 100 readers has amazed us to find that the readership is now well into five figures. To be honest if it were 100 people and they liked it I’d still be as happy.

James fishes the Little Dart on Monday

So the plan is – to continue to love fly fishing, do more of it, spread the fly fishing word and enjoy the company of family and friends. Looking at that last sentance you could pretty much replace fly fishing with anything else and it might still be a good plan!

Fly Fishing Instrucor and Guide Pete Tyjas


Dry waders?….perhaps not!

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

I thought this week was going to be a slightly quieter one than of late. I sort of put it down to family holidays that meant aspiring trout bums have had to pop the rods away for a week or two and do some non fishing related stuff. Well, this is what I thought but it has turned out not to be the case and we have been hitting some great caddis hatches and getting guests into a fish or two.

Lyndsey had popped down with her Dad who is an excellent fisherman for a few days fishing and asked if I were able to help with some casting and fishing tips. Lyndsey was an excellent learner and I gave her a few secret tips that had her giving her dad a run for his money on the catching stakes. He has taken some photos which I hope to pop up shortly.

Lewis had only had a brief session of casting two years ago and wanted to try again so we spent some time on the casting lake where we covered the essential casts needed for fishing the river and then went down to the river and discussed watercraft and how to read a river. We put all of this into action and it all happened pretty quickly and effectively. There is nothing nicer than seeing someone catch their first fish and even better when it is one of our wild brown trout from the River Taw!


Bob was celebrating a major birthday and despite fishing the reservoirs of the Midlands he was keen to catch a bass. We were happy to oblige and I still smile when Bob and I spotted bass busting and ran like a couple of children so that he could cover them with a clouser. Pic below shows he did a great job and I quickly snapped the fish before he carefully released his first bass. I’m pleased to say it was the first of many!


I’ve just changed my wading boots as the last pair managed to last just over a season which I am pretty pleased with. I do abuse my gear a bit but at the end of each day I throw my stuff into the back of the truck so that I know I have it ready for the next day. This does mean it doesn’t get much of a chance to dry out. The new boots come with studs built in where as the old ones I had to screw in. Towards the end of their life the old boots wouldn’t hold studs which meant I was doing some pretty impressive down hill sking on the wet banks of the river. I am still proud to announce I haven’t fallen in yet but now that I’ve said this I have a bad feeling coming!

A Fly Fishing Guide’s Nightmare!

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Do you ever have one of those dreams where you have turned up for work and forgotten to put on any clothes? I had the equivalent yesterday but for real when I turned up to guide Chris. Chris was a little early and so we chatted for a few minutes and I then went to put my waders and fishing vest on. My fishing vest sits on the back of my driving seat in the truck so that it is always ready for action. I grabbed it off of the seat and immediately noticed that the fly box that is pinned to the front of the vest was missing. It only looks a small box but I have just checked and it carries 175 flies. This had all of my Scruffy Klinks and a few other of my favourite patterns. I’ve also been tying a lot of quill bodied flies in both dry and nymph form and have been having a bit of luck with them too. Anyway, the box was heaving. I know this as I had tied some Copper Johns the other day and struggled fitting them in. So it was full and was no longer in the vicinity. I got this sort of light headed feeling as I was about to hit the river with a guest and my favourite flies were no where to be seen. I ripped out the back seats of my truck but it wasn’t there. Thankfully I had another very small reserve box and as luck would have it I had one scruffy klink sitting in the corner. We were starting to fish where there were a lot of trees and bushes so I kept him in reserve and as luck would have it when I made the change a little later the best fish of the day took it (12 inches)

I wasn’t so upset at losing them but it was all the hours of tying I had put in that was a shame. The other weird thing was that I had something similar happen before with exactly the same model of box although it was attached to a lanyard at the time and in a different way. The even weirder thing was that I lost that one just 30 yards from where I lost the first one. I have to admit that I had never planned to use one again but my wife Emma and daughter Charlie had bought me this box for my birthday so I was determined to use it. I had securely fastened it but clearly not well enough! Emma came with me down to the river this morning to have a look and as she has found a rod tip Id lost before so I had high hopes that she would be the person to find it. Sadly it wasn’t to be but I was still left without flies and I have, as ever, a busy guiding schedule.

Thankfully I made a call to Simon at Turralls who happen to be just up the road. They don’t sell direct but a fly fishing guide on his hands and knees was enough to allow me to pop in and pick some up. My only worry now is that the fish are going to have to get used to such high quality flies after seeing my stuff!

About 15 dozen flies!

About 15 dozen flies!

Many thanks Simon, I owe you a large one!

Devon trout fishing

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

I’ve just had a couple of days with Richard. I think he should be called the trout slayer. He is relatively new to river fly fishing but you wouldn’t have known it. He was soon throwing micro loops under branches and into tight, unwelcoming snags and having lightening reactions meant that he wasn’t going to miss a fish!


All of his skills aside he has an insatiable appetite for knowledge and was firing questions left, right and centre which I had great pleasure in answering. What was really cool was how he was putting everything into practice and the impact it was having on his success rate. We hit a real purple patch where he just could do no wrong and the fish kept coming. Modesty prevents me for saying how many he had but it was a lot and I know the fish of Devon and Hampshire where he lives have something to fear.


I think this is why I love my job so much. It might be a newcomer who suddenly realises the fundamentals of casting and watches their line fly out to the other side of the lake or guiding on a river and my client makes a tricky cast into a back eddy, throws in a bit of slack and the big trout takes the fly. It is moments like these that are both memorable for me but more importantly for my client so that they have walked away having had a good day on the water but also have learnt something that will make the next time they are out on their own just a little bit more easier and enjoyable!

Here’s to you Richard, well done fella!

It has been great to introduce some ladies to fly fishing recently. They are always graceful, elegant casters. I recieved a couple of messages recently:

Hi Pete,

Thanks again, I feel confident that I shall not be a fishing disaster in Scotland in May next bankholiday. I will email you if I catch something!


Hi Pete. 
You have been such a great teacher and I will try to live up to your expectations. Thanks for being so patient on the river today it was a great experience.
Best wishes,

Not fly fishing in Devon…..

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

A good friend has a stretch of water that he has asked if I would like to fish with him. He has very kindly asked me for about 3 years and with the workload it has been a little tricky. I got close last year but this year when he asked I had one clear day and jumbled  tuition around so that I could spend two days.

I have promised to not give any details away and I will remain good to my word, all I will say is that I was not fly fishing in Devon!

I got there late on Wednesday night as I had been guiding Paul on the river and talked with my host for a bit and then went to bed. I don’t know if you are the same but the prospect of fishing a new water leaves me little time to sleep and I was awake at 5.30am and ready to go. I poked my head out of the window and saw that it was raining. Not heavy but it looked pretty set and looked like it was going to be a permanent fixture for the day. Needless to say my host wasn’t up and had been there for almost a week and had settled in to that nice relaxed camp routine and the last thing he’d want is an excited newcomer dragging him out to go fishing!

I decided to get my gear ready and had a brand new Scott S4 to try. It is an 8 1/2 ft 4wt and putting my obvious bias to Scott aside I have to say that I have a new best buddy. The rod has even knocked my beloved G2‘s into second place…it is a really, really nice fishing rod.

After some toast and coffee we headed down to the bottom of the river. My host graciously had left this section so that I was hitting it fresh. After a quick limber up I made the first few casts. As there were some slightly deeper pockets I wanted to cover both bases and so had a scruffy klink with a flashback pheasant tail nymph tied to the bend of the hook NZ style. We quickly saw a rise to my right and my first cast was a little short. I had feared that I had spooked the fish but cast again. This time I was on the money and a fish rose to my dry. I could feel this was a good fish and seeing it run upstream and against the current told me this was the case. I eventually got it under control and my host netted a fish. This was a monster. My new rod comes with markers on it for 12inches and 20 inches.I haven’t paid a lot of attention to the 20 inch marker until then. The fish was just a couple of millimeters below it…I couldn’t believe it!


My host had to pop into town so left me alone to fish. I worked up the next pool and saw a fish move. I covered him a couple of times but nothing. Third cast and the dry dipped. I struck and couldn’t believe it as it felt as though it was another hefty fish. I netted the brown trout and remember saying out loud “This is unbelievable”  This time it was an 18 incher!


I had to sit down for a bit and reflect, I had beaten my best ever UK wild trout and got close to it with my next fish.

The river also has some grayling too and I picked up a nine incher. I carried on and the rain had got a little heavier. As a whole we had been working the tails of pools and slower, slacker areas. I worked my way up a pool and the head reminded me of an area I have had a lot of success with when guiding on the Taw. I threw a couple of casts in and nothing. I thought I’d make one more and I was glad I did. The dry dipped again and another fish was on. In the words of John Wilson it was a clonker. I caught sight of the fish and knew it was another biggie. My host was watching and came up the pool and netted the fish. I measured it and it was even bigger than my first at 20 1/2 inches!


After releasing the fish and high fiving my host he headed down to the pool he was fishing, I threw in the hole again but thought that would be it. First cast the dry dipped again and I was in again and it was another nice fish! My host couldn’t believe it and neither could I. This one was 14 inches but again screamed right upstream when hooked. It really reminded me of both New Zealand fishing and New Zealand Fish. I was also really lucky to get a 16 incher and the amazing thing is that these are all wild fish, nothing stocked and we didn’t luck them when salmon fish, we were trout fishing.

I only fished for a few hours the second day but I netted a 14 inch grayling for my host and I hooked a couple of small ones just to prove they were there. It was just one of those days when the fishing gods smiled on me and one I won’t forget in a hurry but it was great fishing with good friends in a stunning setting.

I have promised not to mention where I was and I will remain good to my word, I’ll just call it mystery river X for now.

Fly fishing in Devon

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Well, we have had some rain, the river is up a bit and a 6 1/2 lb salmon has come out just down stream from us. It feels like fly fishing in Devon is getting even more exciting!

I was guiding on Sunday and the Taw was the most alive I have seen so far this season. The grannom hatches are easing right back now but they have been replaced with gnats, caddis, olives and I even saw a lone mayfly who was just a little bit early. Up until Sunday the fishing had been in bursts of activity but it really felt that the bugs have felt all is good and are ready to rumble.

I am hoping that the rise in water will also bring some sea trout up to us as well.

We have been flat out introducing newcomers to fly fishing and also showing regular fishers the River Taw and also a few early season surprises too!


 Here is Mike with his first wild brown trout, he is a delightful caster and lands the fly just perfectly. We were really pleased with his casting and fishing and more improtantly so did the fish!








Graham, was a newcomer to fly fishing and spent the day with us after recieving a gift voucher from his son. We showed him how to fly cast and then we did some fly fishing for the rainbows in our lake. The fish weren’t obliging at first but a damsel fly came up with the goods.





 Nick was really keen to try and catch a bass. We first worked on fly casting and how to double haul. We then headed off to see if we could find a bass or two. Some might say we were a tad too early but we always believe that if your fly is in the water you are in with a chance. Nick proved the point perfectly!