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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Posts Tagged ‘Devon Fly Fishing Tuition’

Road trip

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

I love road trips of any kind and I took a few days off of work and Emma, Charlie and myself decided to head up country on a bit of a tour. There was no plan as such and we didn’t have hotels booked we just thought we’d drive and see where we ended up. All I knew was that I was guiding Gordon in 3 days time and needed to be back to meet him.

As the trip took on a life of its own we managed to head up to Stratford Upon Avon and did some culuture stuff. We even saw a Shakespeare play which was excellent. It was a first for me and I was amazed at the humour and how apt much of it is for today. It is funny that as people things don’t change as much as perhaps we think.

Jo on a guided day

We found a place on the M6 and stayed overnight and hit the Lake District. It was a real whistlestop tour but we managed to see plenty of the lakes and at about 5ish decided we’d crack on up to Edinburgh.  We did it in good time and I couldn’t believe we managed to get a room at 7.30pm on a saturday night that was right in the middle of town. We had dinner, went to the room and then hit the town early the next day to see the sights. We walked a fair bit and left at 4ish having looked at the map we thought it might be fun having driven up the west side of the country to head down the east side via the A1 and aim for Yorkshire somewhere. We got to Whitby at 6.30 to witness a superb sunset hitting the remains of the abbey. Being a Bram Stoker fan it was great to see what looked to inspire a lot of his great story.

Nick hits the river for the first time

Next stop was Scarborough where we managed to find a hotel and have something to eat. After an excellent full fry up we were ready to hit York which is a great town with lots of interesting stuff. The last bit was the only planned part of the journey where I had a flight back to Exeter but the girls were staying on a day. We also managed to have a quick look at Harrogate on the way to the airport.

Simon lands one!

It really was a superb trip and although I know this isn’t fishing related it dawned on me what a small country this is and how easy it is to get around (when the roads are behaving) and how easy it is to hop in the car and fish a new venue. In the U.S they think nothing of driving 2 or 3 hours for some fishing. Just think where that would take you here? We found cheap but excellent places to stay and there are some places in the Lake District that I would love to throw a few flies in to!

It was great to have my good friend Brett O’Connor down to stay. He is a great instructor, excellent fisherman and fine company. I was already working but we met up for dinner at the hotel and stayed up late chewing the fat about life and fly fishing. He went off to fish a small stream I know and met myself and my guest for the day, Charles, for lunch. It worked out well as some other guests had seen some salmon move on one of the hotel’s beats.

Charles had taken to fly fishing like a duck to water and so we thought we would hit the river and go over the casting while we watched the maestro Brett in action. We saw a fish move but despite Brett covering it with everything it didn’t take. It was great for Charles to see Brett in action and just watching a great fisherman is inspiring but also good to learn from.

The maestro Brett in action!

If you are based in London and want one of the best instructors and guides around you won’t get better than Brett!

Emma has been a constant companion when I have slotted some salmon fishing in and I said she was going to be lucky. I know she didn’t feel it was the case but it was good to see the line swing and go tight as I got into a small grilse on Thursday. Thanks Em!!   Fly Fishing in Devon Fly Fishing Tuition, Guiding and lessons

Fly fishing in Devon, bamboo and CDC

Monday, August 9th, 2010

We still haven’t had any real rain to speak of but the fish have still been biting and the best of the fishing has been towards the late afternoon when we have had great caddis hatches at 3.30pm or so. It has been good to see fish devouring caddis pupae as they try and make a dash for the surface of the water. I was guiding Henry, John and Mark last Thursday and it looked like the omens were good  but the wind got up and we experienced micro hatches when ever the wind stopped. I was with Henry when this happened and we saw three really nice fish come on the feed for just a very short time. This was time enough for Henry to land a nice 11incher!

I have really been trying hard with CDC flies of late. There is little doubt of their fish catching abilities and I like that they fit in with the simple-to-tie family of flies. The downside of their effectiveness is that one fish is enough to put them out of action for a bit so I have had 3 lined up on the fly patch and make a quick change after a fly has weaved its magic on a fish. At the moment a green dubbed body on a Varivas 2200BL hook has been the winning combo for me.

Superfast and South Creek

I met up with Richard (RFH) last week and we had a day fishing. He is on a wating list of a club I belong to and I thought it would be nice for him to have a fish there and also he has been asking me about one of Luke Bannister’s excellent superfast bamboo rods. I am lucky enough to have a couple of his rods and even luckier to have No2 in the production line of the Superfast series. When I spoke to Richard I said I’d bring my rod along which he could fish and I would fish my treasured South Creek rod. We decided it should be a bamboo and dry fly day.

RFH and fish!

The fish were obliging and we caught plenty. RFH provided a most excellent bbq and the pork and apple burgers were outstanding! Fly Fishing in Devon Fly Fishing tuition,lessons and guiding- The Devon School of Fly Fishing

Sometimes you’ve just got to go for it

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

There is that funny feeling you get when you get a report of the river you are about to fish that says “it’s sort of fishable”  The next question is “what do you mean by sort of fishable?” the answer was along the lines that the the clarity was good but the height was bad. Not so bad that the river was over the banks but bad that most would probably give it a miss. I’m not one of those who won’t and nor are my fishing buddies.

When you picture a chalkstream you see an image picture of crystal clear water and a nice even flow with a rising fish every now and again to make it perfect.

When I got there this wasn’t exactly the case. After all the rain we have had there were still flooded fields and the springs had been filled to the maximum and were pumping water back out into the river as quick as they could. The river was up and really pushing. That having been said it was a day’s fishing and nothing was going to get in the way.

Four of us had arranged to fish and special guest was Jim. Jim lives and guides on The Coln in Wiltshire and I wanted to show him the bit of chalkstream I fish.  We jumped in and water that is usually shin deep that was now thigh deep. I hung with Jim for a bit and watched the maestro in action but decided, with some prompting, to grab my rod and have a go myself.  I worked the slacker margins with a couple of heavy bugs and managed to pick up a grayling as The Dude joined me in the river. He’d spotted a slack line the other side of the river and manfully waded across to try his luck. The water got too deep and strong for us to continue so I jumped out and Ray did some pretty cool climbing up a dead tree his side.

Lunch and a chance to warm up!

Lunch and a chance to warm up!

The fishing was pretty tough but we all did ourselves justice. I had a spell where I thought I was going to get into a sensible pod of fish but after a couple in as many casts and one off and then one landed that was it. The rest of the day I picked up odd one and twos but that was about it and think that was the story for everyone.

 I was hoping for a few more for Jim as he has been slamming them on The Coln this year and I really wanted to show him fishing  as good. The light was starting to go and we ‘d decided to end the day in the pub but Jim and I headed in search of just one more. Needless to say he came up trumps.

A bright pink bug in size 8 worked best for me and I think Toby too but Jim fished a more subtle pheasant tail in a 14 and I would have guessed The Dude did the same. It sort of reminded me of a time I was fishing there once and there was a nice lunchtime hatch and the guy I was fishing with and I had a long debate about whether to fish a 16 or 18 Para Adams  to the rising grayling. We bumped into another fisherman at the end of the day and told him how we found the fish didn’t want the 16 but hit the 18 happily. We asked him if he had found the same but he said the big shrimp pattern he’d used had worked just fine.

Darkness but time for just one more!

Darkness but time for just one more!

I’d tried a different brand of burger for lunch and although tasty I thought the meat to roll ratio was just slightly the wrong way round but they were pretty good. All in all it was good fishing, great food and excellent company.

Winter Beard Watch- Gave it a trim on Sunday and took a bit too much off although it is still hanging in there. Fly Fishing Tuition and Guiding

Fly Fishing Guide

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

There is nothing more rewarding that sitting down and dressing a few flies. Being a full time fly fishing guide the winter is a good time to do this. During the downtime I have been getting plenty ready for next season and I’ve been busy restocking the fly boxes with home tied flies.

The ever-present flies are there but I have tweeked a few things and am going to try some new patterns just to see if they work. It is nymphs that I have been tying most. I had been thinking that the usual and most consistent patterns have been bead head pheasant tailed nymphs and copper Johns. This is probably because I have great confidence in them and that they actually work really well. I am sure confidence is a large part of it but when I show my guests the underside of rocks these look like the stone clingers and the free swimmers too so we are also matching the bugs effectively.

I’ve also paid a lot more attention to caddis and have played with some hydropsyche and rhyacophila patterns that I have added to the flies I already use.  I try and tie them as generically (is that a word?) as possible so that they suggest not just a single food source but perhaps a little wider range and put the odds in my favour a little bit more. I try and knock out either a half dozen or dozen flies and my brief is simple. Tie them as close as you can to perfect but don’t lavish too much love on them. I would hate to slave over one fly for hours and then a stray cast lands the fly on the far bank of a juicy run without it ever getting wet. As an aside I always say to my guests that it is much better to lose a fly going for that far bank rather than throwing it in the tree behind you. One of the first lessons I try to instill in my guests is to have a quick look behind you before you make the cast. Sounds obvious but on our small streams in Devon it will pay dividends and save you a whole bunch of flies.


I have, along with a lot of help from Emma, tidied the wreckage that is my fly tying area and it is looking almost respectable. I have a radio up there and listen to Radio 5 so that I can keep up with news and sport. I find that working in fly fishing means that it is always on your mind but not everyone wants to always talk fishing ( I do).

It has felt like the weather has lifted a little here. It has been nowhere as bad as Cumbria but we have had wind and rain for what feels like 2 1/2 weeks solid and we have had our first frost of the year today. I will be out casting  and will try some of the new caddis patterns out on some grayling on Thursday. They might even work!

Winter Beard Watch- Day 6- Is this itching going to stop soon?

www.devonschoolofflyfishing – Fly fishing guiding and tuition

Fly Fishing Tuition

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Well, I’ve covered a fair few miles over the last few days but there will be more of that in slightly later blogs. One of the trips I made was to Wales to our fly fishing instructor’s get together. I was lucky enough to meet up with a few people making their first steps into becoming fly fishing instructors and I was amazed by the high quality of people I met as casters, fishermen and as nice guys too. I guess our Association’s (AAPGAI) standards are high and having this sort of benchmark that makes it such a challenge to pass and such a reward when you have passed it. I was only there a short time as I had to shoot off  and whilst writing this blog have just had a call from Jim saying that sorry we didn’t get much chance to catch up…I hope we can get to fish soon fella!

I was back Monday meeting up with Chris and Joan for some fly fishing tuition who were over from the Isle of Man to learn how to fly fish. Chris had tried it once before but Joan was a newcomer. They are lucky enough to have both lakes and streams on the island so I gave them a good idea of how to approach both so that they can tackle anything the fish over there want  and we did a bit of fishing too.

It is great when people are learning together as you can show them what to spot so that if they are out and something doesn’t go to plan they can help each other out.


It was great to see Joan land her first fish! At the end of the day it started to get cool so we headed back in for a cup of coffee and in Joan’s case a hot chocolate and rum and reflect on a job well done!

It is typical we now get some rain and I guess I’ll be watching the salmon making their way further upstream.

Fly Fishing Instructor

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

I was talking to Karl the other day. We were talking about being a fly fishing instructor and the role he or she plays in the whole learning process. We agreed that it is really important that the instructor holds the rod as little as possible and only takes it to display a cast or to show a point. It is even more so when I am guiding. I will barely touch the rod at all and again it will only be to show a cast if my guest asks and the important thing is not to throw that demonstration cast into a fishing spot. I will generally throw it down stream or well away from where my guest might be looking to cast next. There would be nothing worse than hooking a fish!

When the Dude and I were in NZ we had a guide for a day to get into some nice water. I never say what I do for a living but I had met the guy over here on a professional basis so he knew and I said I don’t mind at all if you want to fish. Barry wouldn’t have any of it and told a story of him hooking the only fish of the day a fair few years back and he said he would never do it again. I feel the same. I take the view that it is my guest’s day of fishing, not mine and so I agree with Barry and will never fish as well no matter how much I am asked…and I am too!

Anyway, Karl called me back a couple of hours after our first conversation and said he had just been reading a Lefty Kreh book and read the section on being an instructor. There was a great quote in there saying that a good instructor shares knowledge and doesn’t show it. I think that sums things up pretty well.

I am looking for a spare day and good weather to try out my latest toy. I love light line fishing and have just got in and my new 1 weight fly rod has turned up.

Fly Fishing in Devon

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Heinz and Daniel joined us for a day’s fly fishing down here in Devon. They were over from Austria and the first thing I noticed was that Daniel, at 14, spoke perfect English. I was pleased as my Austrian is a little rusty!


Heinz is a very keen fly fisher who likes to fish small streams at home and after talking for just a short time over a coffee I could see we were in for a good day. Daniel had an aim, which he was hoping to make come true, that he would catch a trout on a fly. I was going to do my best to try and make this happen.

Daniel had not really cast a fly rod before but was a natural and was soon casting a nice loop. Clearly taking after his Dad he was keen to hit the river and that was just what we did. I showed him how to wade safely and a few of my favourite river casts and we started.

Sometimes putting a newcomer in front of moving water can be a little intimidating and I had given this some thought. A week previously my good friend Karl had been down for a couple of days where we had fished long and hard for trout and sea trout. Karl is an amazing fisherman and can tempt fish where you think they won’t be or shouldn’t be! He fishes the Welsh Dee a fair bit and likes to fish spider patterns a fair bit. I have played with them a bit and sat and watched him fish a few pools and picked up some great tips. He is also one of the best tyers around and kindly sent me way too many of his favourite patterns. I happened to have some with me so tied them on for Daniel and explained how we would fish the pool in front of us.

It didn’t take long for Daniel’s dream to come true and a small brownie was on the end of the line. We continued fishing this way with Heinz fishing a dry and nymph upstream. I happened to pop downstream to see him as he was playing a lively 11 incher. I offered to take a photo of the fish for him but he cares a lot for them and wanted to get it back quickly. I like that!


The pattern of picking up fish continued and although it wasn’t a fish a cast it was pretty consistent. As we had moved further up to a new pool I changed Heinz’ rig a little making the dropper a little longer and the flash back pheasant tail a little heavier. The reason for this was that the day before I had been guiding Nick over from NZ and we had picked up a small sea trout on a dry and moved a nicer fish on a nymph.

He expertly made a cast into the right spot and moved a fish straight away but sadly missed it. We waited a bit and made another cast and this time the dry dipped and Heinz was attached to an acrobatic sea trout of around 3lb. He had him on for a while but the fish managed to wrap him around a rock and was gone. It was fun though!

Daniel had been going great guns and picked up another few fish and was really liking this fly fishing thing. Looks like I’ll be using spiders a whole lot more!!

The rivers are shot today and I was due to be out with Dave from Portland, a regular at the school, but sadly it wasn’t to be. I was out guiding Mike for some guided sea trout fishing last night and we had to head back at midnight as the river started to rise and colour up. It means I have been able to see a little bit of the Ashes but I’d rather be on the river!

I’ve been playing with a few new parachute patterns now that we are getting blue winged olive and light olive hatches and even the odd sea trout seem to approve.

Lots happening and keep an eye on the Latest News  page of the main website for an update.

A day’s fly fishing in Devon

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

I’ve been meaning to write this blog for a bit but for some reason I haven’t got around to it yet.  I guess that the old memory isn’t as good as it used to be!

It was the end of June and I had a realised that despite being on the river every day I hadn’t actually been fishing myself for trout for over a month. I though I’d better do something about it and had a 1/2 day of fly fishing tuition but I was free in the afternoon.

I’d decided to head to a bit of the Taw I hadn’t fished for a bit and rigged up. The water was low and clear and it is always nice to quietly step into the river and see a fish rise. As ever I had the two fly set up of a dry and bead head nymph hung just below. I picked up a few fish and continued to head upstream.


I headed to a spot that I figured might hold some fish as it was a nice run carrying oxygenated water to any fish that might be holding there. I hooked into a small one pretty quickly and then saw what I initially thought was a rock move and have a pop at the little fella as I brought him in. I thought this might have caused the “rock” to shoot off but as I released my fish I watched him resume his position. I was a little surpised to see him hold where he was as it was in 8 inches of water, in an open lie and bright sunshine!

I watched him for a bit and he was just happily sitting there. It didn’t look like he was feeding so I was going to have to get my fly right in front of him and make it worth his while. The first cast was too far to the right and he didn’t even give it the time of day. Next cast was right on the money and I watched the nymph go right over him and the dry slowly slid down. As I lifted I felt my little 2 weight bend over and he was on. The fish headed upstream but I managed to horse him down towards me. We both got a good, close look at each other and seeing him let me know I was attached to a trout and not a sea trout. Seeing me was enough for him to surge downstream and he tried to head for the safety of an undercut bank. Applying as much side pressure as I dared I kept him out and thought he was heading my way when out of the blue the hook hold came loose and he was gone.

I stood silently for a few moments, I would have loved a closer look at him and the chance of a photo but it was not to be. I remembered something I said to a guest the other day that there was no point mourning a lost fish too much as it ends up eating away at you. I know we all have one lost fish story and this might just be my one as it was up there with the biggest fish I have caught from the river Taw but I just reeled in, smiled and headed off home.

Read about a fly fishing away from Devon

Mia’s first fly fishing lesson!

Friday, July 10th, 2009

My good friend Ray, AKA the Dude, took his daughter Mia for her first fly fishing lesson and it looks like she is taking after her Dad.

Ray has written about it all below..

 My six year old daughter Mia had a day off school this week.  As her mother was working, I asked her if she wanted to spend the day fishing with her father.  She eagerly said yes, much to my delight, and we set off to Manningford Fishery.

Now I’m a wild trout, catch and release, upstream dry fly type of angler, and like most fishing fathers I fantasize about watching my daughter growing up fishing alongside me.  Today was that all important first day to expose her to fly fishing.  Most of all Iwanted Mia to have a fun day, but I knew that the only thing that would matter to her would be to catch a fish.  I was quietly desparate for everything to go well.

As I got the rod set up, she carefully searched through my fly box for the right pattern.  We had discussed a great many fishing related things during the half hour drive to the fishery, including what fish eat.  After much thought, she chose a size 16 bead head ptn.  So far so good.

We agreed that I would cast and she would retrieve.  The nine foot, six weight outfit was ridiculously big for her, but she gamely rested the butt of the rod on her tummy and stripped line with her left hand while holding the rod with her right hand.  She declined my offer of help to support the rod.  Good girl,I thought.

After only a few casts, the fishing gods smiled upon us and she hooked a fish.  After a brief struggle, the fish came off, but she was excited and anxious to “try and catch him again”.  She hooked another, netted it, gave it a few spirited blows with the priest, and played with it in the water before we headed to the pub for lunch. 

The fishing wasn’t as good after lunch, but just before we headed home she hooked another.  It broke her off, and I figured it was a good time to call it quits.  It left her with the feeling of wanting to come back and “try and catch him again”.  We ate the fish that Mia caught for dinner that night, a fitting end to that all important first day.

Thanks Dude and really well done Mia!




Fly Fishing in Devon

Monday, June 29th, 2009

I have just had a great bunch of lads down for a spot of fly fishing in Devon. They have all fly fished a fair bit and were looking to learn a few new things that might help up the catch rate a little and make their time on the water  all the more enjoyable. We covered all sorts of casting tips and as usually happens, and indeed it did this time, I get a case of verbal overflow!

As an instructor I feed off of the enthusiasm and keeness to learn and I was amazed by how interested the guys were in learning new casts but also how the mechanics work. It was really great and we spent the morning covering just about everything you could think of. The afternoon was split between trout fishing and having a look for salmon too. One of the guys, Dave, had a good pull from a fish and saw a sea trout take to the air and Les saw a good sized sea trout roll.

It was a great day and as they were staying in the hotel I got to keep in touch with their fishing exploits for the other days they were staying. So here’s to you, Dominic, Paul, Les, Dave, Christian and Peter!

The lads!

The lads!

My good pal Dave gave me a hand with the lads and a ladies day we held on Sunday and it was a great pleasure to work with you fella!

The catch board at the Hotel is going great guns with over 470 trout now caught and we have now added four sea trout so we are certainly getting into a few fish.

I have had a day off and it was great to chat with my pal Jim Williams who is a full time guide and instructor in Wiltshire. I really like speaking to him as he is so enthusiastic and a great person to bounce ideas off . I’ll also tell you that he is a great fly fishing instructor, I guess this sounds like an advert but if you are heading to Wiltshire and want some top quality fishing or instruction then he is your man!

For more details or information on fly fishing in Devon please feel free to call 01363 82786

Other fly fishing in Devon blogs here and here