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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Posts Tagged ‘Devon Fly Fishing Lessons’

River Taw fly fishing

Friday, April 8th, 2011

It is always nice to get to fish or guide on a new water. I was down on the south side of the Moor to meet up with David who has over 1 1/2 miles of some really nice water and wanted to see how we would approach and fish it for migratory fish. It was a really nice piece of water with a mixture of deep, shaded, slow pools that looked the ideal spot for sea trout and some classic salmon pools too. David covered it and fished it really well. It was one of those bits of water that, despite the water being low, you are always in with a chance.

David fished his stretch of water!

Yesterday I hit a new piece of chalkstream. Small, overgrown, low, clear and intimate. The sort of water where you have to spot the fish and creep up on them. We fished light with a one weight and worked hard on the stealth stuff. You know what? It worked pretty well. Despite the fish up there not having fully woken up we looked for the shallower water where fish were lying and offered them a CDC emerger. The only downside of this simple, but hugely deadly fly is that once they have had a fish you need to nip them off and tie on another. I had at least three of them being rotated on my fly patch during the day.

The grannom have really been flooding off of the Taw and the fish have been on them. We have a new section of water for our fishing school which is about 1 1/2 miles long. It is lower down the Taw and has some nice salmon pools and spots for sea trout along with brown trout. I have walked it a few times now and reckon it is longer than that as the river twists and turns but there is a great amount of water for our guests to fish, be it migratory or non migratory fishing they are after. This is along with all the great water that the hotel has so I reckon we have nearly 8 miles of private water to show anglers now.

I was guiding further down the Taw with Richard the other day. He has a cottage right by the river and wanted to learn how to fish the water for salmon. I was happy to help and showed him the pools and how best to approach them and how to fish them under differing water levels. It was one of the first bright, sunny days but we had a good go and it was nice walking back to Richard’s cottage for a pizza and sit in the garden before hitting the river again. Things weren’t to be but I’d mentioned that on the bright days it is worth heading down early to the river. I had done this a bit last year and it is really nice being there as the sun comes up. Anyway, Richard did just this and I had a call early the next day saying that he had landed his first salmon. He thinks it was a really well mended kelt but it is a great start to the second day of his salmon fishing career. My advice to him when I left him was to listen to everything anyone tells him about salmon fishing but don’t be afraid to do something from the left field. That is what he did and it turned out well for him. Well done Richard!

Richard swings a cascade

Fly Fishing Devon Fly Fishing Lessons, Guiding and fly fishing tuition in Devon

Massive Respect!

Friday, August 7th, 2009

As hard core fly fishers we will do whatever we can to make sure we are able to get out and go fishing. I fished with Faure today and he comes under the heading of hard core without a shadow of a doubt. He is based in London and got the sleeper down from Paddington last night. I say sleeper but what I mean is he was on a train that had sleeping carriages but that would have been a bit too soft for him! The train got into Exeter at some ridiculous time where he jumped onto the Tarka Line to head for Eggesford and our fly fishing school. Apparently he was there at just after 6.30am and chilled out by the river. I knew he was coming early so was there (not 6.30 though!) to meet him.

We popped down to the lake and I showed him a few casts that might be useful for fishing down here on our streams and then we had a quick coffee and hit the river.


He has fished the Kennet but hadn’t waded and hadn’t fished a spate river before. It didn’t take long though for him to get into a really nice rhythm and he had a nice fish putting a bend into my Helios. We had a few more and didn’t realise what the time was when I suggested perhaps we should have some lunch.

After a most excellent Steak Peri Peri (my new favourite lunch) we headed to another beat and were quickly into the fish. The caddis have been hatching from 2ish onwards and we hit it just right. The fish were still sitting in slacker, slower water and throwing against the banks was reaping rewards.

I showed Faure a favourite sea trout haunt where we have picked a few up during the day recently but it wasn’t to be the case today, so as we headed up I talked to Faure about fishing spider patterns. We found some nice water to fish them and I tied a few of Karl’s awesome patterns on and they weaved their magic again. It is a real fun and deadly way of fishing and worked really well.

Again time had raced away and I dropped Faure back at the station to head back to London. I suspect he might be sleeping all the way back and hopefully dreaming of fly fishing in Devon!


Fly Fishing in Devon

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Living and fly fishing in Devon gives me so many great locations that I can offer my guests and also for myself on my days off!

Having so many miles of private fishing on the Taw to offer guests allows us to offer varied fishing on well rested, fresh beats but I also like taking anglers up on to Dartmoor for some fishing too. I have been up there a bit recently and was up again with Richard yesterday. This was the second time I have met up with him in a couple of weeks and the brief was to show him some fishing that he hasn’t experienced before.

We met up and started off at one of my favourite spots. As has been the case of late things didn’t really get going until about 10.30 but we worked deeper holes with a small dry (size 20, black scruffy klink) and soon the fish were biting.


We covered plenty of miles and after lunch fished another of my favourite spots. I had to apologise to Richard as I let out an expletive when I saw a fish I judged to be around 14inches dart out of a lie and push the 7 inch fish I had spotted for Richard away from his territory. It was that or he was after a spot of lunch!

It was great fun watching Richard expertly land his fly in the pocket of water and see an eager fish take the dry. I took Dave up there last week and his boss is also a fly fisher. He said that he would be quizzed by him the next day about the fishing and said the way he would explain it was by taking his cup of coffee and placing it at the other side of the office and telling his boss that he had to land his fly in the cup. I liked this and thought he is just about right. The other good thing is that Richard did experience something new and did a great job!

Many congratulations to Nick and Tara at the Fox and Hounds for winning another award!

For more details or free advice for fly fishing on the Taw or Dartmoor click HERE

Previous Fly Fishing in Devon Blogs click HERE and HERE

Devon Fly Fishing Guide

Saturday, June 13th, 2009

As a fly fishing guide I do enjoy the challenge of sussing the fish out when conditions aren’t as perfect as we would all like them. I was lucky enough to have Pam and Alan down here for a week and having left perfect conditions in Hampshire we were greeted with something a little less friendly in Devon.

The river on Sunday was unfishable but was coming down fast and although had a tinge of colour was safe to wade and looked like it would just get better. The morning was pretty slow with a few half hearted plucks but after lunch things hotted up and a few mayflies got the fish interested. As the water still had a push to it we worked slacker, slower areas and any indents in the bank. We decided to make it worthwhile for the fish to take a look so fished size 1o stimulators. This might seem a little extreme but there have been some pretty big ones coming off this year. The nice thing was that the plan worked and we had some nice fish to 13 inches.

Later in the week Alan hooked an landed a 14 incher matching our best for the season. We had a great week with plenty of fish and it was a real pleasure to guide them both and to have such a good time!


Fishing Towns

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

There is nothing like wandering into a fishing town. The one I remember the most is Basalt that sits right on the Frying Pan river in Colorado. The Dude and I pulled in for some breakfast and coffee and saw a row of drift boats lined up ready for a day in the water. We popped into the two fly stores there and there were guides busily stocking up on flies and talking their guests through what they were going to be doing on the day. I also remember walking into a restaurant in waders and sitting down at a table without anyone batting an eyelid.

I have just come back from a week of guiding Alan and Pam in Hampshire where we have been fishing a few juicy bits of water. They were based in Stockbridge and I would pick them up each morning. I think Stockbridge qualifies as a fishing town. Well, almost. The two fishing shops open early and there are even a few guides knocking around (me included). The reason is that I am not sure how much of a fishing town it is or not as I am not so sure it is the same once the mayfly have gone. I have been there plenty of times but it does usually coincide with mayfly and there are plenty of anglers around but I am not so sure if this is the case all year round. I will be back later in the year and will let you know.

The fishing itself was really good. The mornings were best with gin clear waters where we stalked and cast our dries to rising fish. The mayfly was OK but not stunning. We fished several different stretches of water and did well on all of them. There is nothing like seeing a fish move towards the fly and take it!

Pam and Alan were new to fly fishing the chalkstreams and are used to casting a fly on spate rivers. You know what? They took to it like they had always done it.

Fly Fishing in Devon

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

I’m just in from the river and what a week it has been. I don’t think I have ever seen better mayfly hatches down here in Devon in all the time I have fished and guided here. I have had the pleasure of guiding John for three days and we have watched the fish get really turned on as the hatches have intensified. I usually fish a size 14 during the mayfly here but they wanted big flies. We have been throwing size 10’s and fish of all sizes have been hitting them hard. I have to say that I don’t think I have ever been so excited as we watched a fish hit a natural and then watch John make a cast and the fish hungrily engulfing our offering.




I was just talking sea trouting with a guest and told him about Sunday night. I planned to nick a quick couple of hours just in case and had watched the pool I was going to fish. I saw a really nice fish take to the air. There is nothing like this to make the hear race a little. I walked down to where I was going to fish.  The spot where I get in is a sort of slide down into belly deep water. I did this with what I thought was a pretty good effort and was ready to go. I heard some bleating and turned round and saw that a sheep and lamb were caught on a ledge above the river. With me getting in the sheep had become a little agitated and started running along the ledge. Of course the lamb followed but wasn’t as sure footed and slid down into the water. There was no way it was going to get up so I popped my rod down and managed to grab hold of the lamb. This was no easy task in itself but I managed to point it in the right direction but there was no way it was going to get up the bank unaided. Now, I’m not the strongest of fellas but with some huffing and puffing I got it up and to safety but all the splashing around had put any chance of a fish into the “not happening” catagory. At least I’d felt I’d done a good deed for the day!

Fly fishing in Devon

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Well, we’ve had some serious rain at last and I am pleased to say that I have seen a number of salmon moving into our beats. I was on the water with a guest and although the water was against us we counted 7 salmon showing in one pool. I guess the sea trout will be doing the same so watch this space!

It was good to meet up with friends old and new at the Devon County Show today and I have another couple of days to go. I really enjoy it and sounds like we have some good weather for the final couple of days.

Richard the trout slayer came back for another day yesterday and despite feeling a little under the weather he fished his whatsits off again and had a number of fish. We had to head high to find some fishable water so I decided on showing him Dartmoor. We covered some ground and fished short with small dries. The fish liked a black version of a scruffy klink in a size 20 and we had to throw the winning fly away as it had been chewed beyond repair.

It was really nice showing him a new spot and he also has developed a love affair with fishing “pocket water” I think we’d both like to have seen the size of the fish that broke him but sometimes its things like that which keep you coming back for more!


The life of a Devon Fly Fishing Guide

Friday, May 15th, 2009

I was hoping to go sea trouting Thursday night and got a call from pal Toby to say he had heard of a few coming off of a local river and was planning to do the same. We swapped notes and I got my stuff ready. I was hoping to get to the water at 8.45 or so sit back and take it all in and then start fishing. I still felt I had a spot of unfinished business with a pool I had fished on Sunday so I was heading back to the same beat. No doubt as you are probably aware the heavens opened at 8 and it stopped me from heading out.

My real worry though was that I was guiding Friday and I didn’t want to get get washed off of the water entirely. The rain stopped about 9.30 or so but I was awoken at 5am by a heavy downpour. This first of all woke me up but also got me thinking what the plan of action would be. I headed to work and pulled over by the bridge at Eggesford and peered over. Thankfully the sight that met me wasn’t as bad as I had feared. The river was up but wasn’t carrying as much colour as I thought it might be. I pulled up at work and saw two guys having breakfast in what looked like fishing shirts. It’s funny that I can seem to sniff a fisherman at over 100 paces as it did turn out to be Mike and his brother David.

I joined them for a quick coffee and I suggested we hit a few beats for salmon and see what the river was going to do. One thing was for sure it wasn’t going to get better so we hit the river to try or luck. Mike and David were good casters and had their flies running down likely looking spots. It’s funny that you sometimes get a feel something might just happen but it didn’t on this occassion and I suggested we head up river a couple of miles to try our luck. Despite only a short trip in the truck we were met by a more angry river carrying more volume and more colour. The guys threw a few casts into a really good pool but we didn’t hang around too long. It was getting close to lunchtime but I had a hunch that heading to another river that runs off of Exmoor rather than Dartmoor might be worth a try and as trout was our intended quarry that we’d give it a go.

When we peered over the river to have a look it was just starting to colour up. We were in with a shout! There was little going on but I was determined to find a fish or two for the guys and, as ever, the scruffy klink in a slightly larger size brought up a couple of 8 inchers for Mike and a really pretty 12 incher for David. It was the perfect finish for a day that I had feared might not ever really get going but ended well and it was great to see a couple of accomplished anglers try salmon fishing for the first time and really take to it and also get so excited at the prospect of sea trout fishing….


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!

Fly Fishing Lessons in Devon

Monday, May 11th, 2009

I love my job. I like that when you meet someone for the first time you have just a small idea of what they are looking to get from their time with our little fishing school and in some small way we are able to help them make that time on the water just a little easier and much more enjoyable. It might be a newcomer holding a fly rod for the first time or a long time fly angler who was struggling with something but with just a little help you, and more importantly they, see what a big difference it makes. My job as a fly fishing instructor is to spot what might be the tiniest of faults but be able to remedy it with a simple and clear explanation. I think it is so important an instructor can see these things and know what is causing it, the effect on the cast and how to put it right. I can’t remember if I have written this before but I read somewhere about someone asking what tools they used for teaching. For me, the most important one I own is my mouth. As long as I can tell the client what is wrong and  break things down simply so that they can see what I am getting at , then we are most of the way there. A simple demonstration might help show the point and hopefully we have helped put it right. The world we live in seems to be riddled with over complication and I worry sometimes that fly casting might get a case of this. I hope it doesn’t. There is little need for it all it ends up doing is baffling the client!

I popped out for a quick sea trout session last night and got spanked. I had one hard smack from a fish which I think surprised the both of us and that was it. It sounds like there is some rain on the way which the rivers badly need to freshen them up and to help the migratory fish continue their journey. Last week I saw a few more mayfly on the water. The last couple of years I have noticed the trout have paid a bit more attention to them than the previous couple of years so lets see what happens.