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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Posts Tagged ‘Devon School of Fly Fishing’

Fly Fishing in Devon

Friday, June 29th, 2012

I’ve tried to keep the blog more related to my fishing adventures and the weather has played a part on my ability to work but also to grab some fishing too. I got out on the 18th June with my good friend Toby. We headed a little further than normal and found the river in good shape with a few rising fish to spice things up a bit. We did the old share the rod routine and I really enjoy this way of fishing and as the fish were coming at pretty regular intervals it worked out well. We both had our first grayling of the season too which was cool.

Today I had the day off and the river was still pushing with some colour too it. I decided to go nymphing for trout and see if I could find some sea trout too. I really like to go for sea trout during the day as it is a little different and good fun. I don’t believe that a rising, colouring river is the only time to catch day time sea trout. I have taken people out during the day specifically to catch them even in the brightest of conditions. Spending a lot of time on the river makes the process a lot easier as I know where the fish hold and if they are in or not. If you know the answer or can work it out then you are in with a shout.

I did have a couple of sea trout. the first was 2lb and the second just a touch smaller. I also lost a smaller one too but I had a great time and would recommend day time sea trout!

Devon Fly Fishing – The Devon School of Fly Fishing – Fly Fishing Tuition, Guiding and Fly Fishing Lessons

Fly Fishing in Devon

Friday, December 9th, 2011

As a full time fly fishing guide I am often asked what I do in the winter. There are a few things but one of the main couple are to replenish my fly boxes and secondly I get to go fishing.

I have been out on a few trips recently that I’ve written about and I was getting some gear rigged up for my next days fishing. This time of year I really enjoy fishing nymphs and where I am fishing the water is low and clear and it lends itself really well to french nymphing. I was getting the leader on my reel and felt a tugging at the end. Despite fighting the urge to strike I saw that one of our cats was having some fun with the long leader as I got it rigged up. What I didn’t realise was how much fun she had and had bitten rather a lot of it and it was one of those sickening moments when you can see the marks on the leader and when you give it a gentle tug it parts. Sadly there were quite a few of these and I had to bin it. She has this butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth looks and so I couldn’t get angry plus she had been well trained with my chop stick and string casting routine which meant she had gotten pretty good at catching the line when I tried to curve it around her.

The Leader Muncher

The other thing I like to do is tie flies when it means I can’t go fishing. It is one of those things that I have to be in the mood for and I’ll sit and tie a bunch of flies or I have been thinking about the season just gone and have thought ” I wonder if I tie it like this it might work better ” Today has been one of those days and I have had a few “brainwaves” I have come up with a few ideas that I’ll try soon for a quicker sinking nymph (not just extra weight), a new sort of mayfly emerger and a fly that I think is a whole lot better for using as part of a duo or trio set up. It is easy to tie and I have just tweaked the early prototypes I used last week. I find it more fun to try and tie something to fit the purpose rather than hearalding the latest fly from a fly company as the latest and greatest. It is also good to show the people you are guiding why you are tying on the fly and why you have tied it rather than just tying on a parachute adams ( great fly though) and hoping for the best.

It is a nice feeling when sometimes the flies you have thought about during the winter layoff actually work in a real life situation. Not always the case though and I have had what I thought were perfect for the role flies hidden away in the crevices of my fly box!

Fly Fishing in Devon – Fly Fishing Tuition, Lessons and Guiding

Exe-cellent Grayling

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

I have been giving some thought to the whole “being cool” thing after a few amusing phone calls and emails after the last blog. It is funny that in our little world of fly fishing, what we consider what looks good might to others look ridiculous. I have also come to the conclusion that I am not too bothered either way. I like to wear brighter colours when fishing and in most situations I am fishing I am approaching the fish from behind so it doesn’t really matter that much but in my little mind it is nicer to wear clothes other than green or khaki.

I also remember when Ray (The Dude) and I were sorting out our trip to NZ and we got all hot and bothered about not having the right drab coloured lines that are mostly required down there. It is funny how these things permeate down and we suddenly find that these are the only things that will work, although I did speak to a guide down there before we went who told me he fished a bright orange line that he reckoned had no impact on his catches. It is that sort of thinking I always like. The long shot stuff that you just can’t help but want to prove wrong. Not to ram home a point or anything but just to see if it will work for your own satisfaction. This isn’t the best example though as Dude and I went for the drab lines just in case but if we go back I’ll give it a go with an orange line.

Jo in action

An example of a case nearer to home is Roadford. Roadford is a 700 odd acre lake that is brown trout only. It opened some time in the ’80s and is a place I used to love to fish. Somehow, some perch got in there and they did rather well. Now, it is seen as a bit of a shadow of its former self and whenever Roadford is mentioned in fishing circles the word perch will be in the same sentence or not far behind. As a result of the perch the fishermen are not fishing there like they used to. To me this is a a real shame as it is such a great place and the trout are still there but not so many fishermen. I was told that it had been fishing well of late so I hope it gets the benefit of the doubt next year. To me though this is another case of how things are percieved and so it is taken as how it is.

Anyway, back to bright stuff. My new orange fishing jacket ( a drab orange of course) was packed in the truck as I had been invited to fish the Exe with my friend Jo. It has been a long standing invite but work had meant I hadn’t had the chance but the water was low and clear and the sun was shining. Coming back to Roadford for a second Jo told me he had gone up there to catch some perch as he likes to eat them but he couldn’t stop catching bloody trout!

I had set up with a 10ft 3wt and my new favourite 8ft 4″ 2wt. It turned out that I left the long rod back by the truck as we ended up fishing dries to rising fish for a large part of the day. Jo had mentioned that the grayling could be tricky and he was right. A lot of them would try and drown the dry as it came past them. I thought I would be clever and downsize the fly but the same thing was happening and when I went even smaller they ignored it completely. It is these sorts of things I really enjoy trying to work out and a size 18 sparkle dun with a long trailing shuck was the right fly. We shared a rod and took it in turns catching a few fish. Towards the end of the day Jo took me to one of his favourite pools where there were some good fish rising. I covered one and missed it and then hooked what felt like a hefty fish. It came off. Funnily enough we both said the same word at the same time.

I don’t get to fish the Exe much these days. It is a great river and one I hope to get to fish again soon.

Fly Fishing in Devon Fly Fishing School- Fly Fishing Tuition, Lessons and Fly Fishing Guide

Devon Fly Fishing

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

I’m probably being a little previous (at least I hope so)  that the river has had a more autumnal feel to it this week. Fishing has felt a little tougher, although it has been a pretty good season so everything is relative I guess. The starts have that cooler temperatures to them and it has meant it has taken a bit of time for fish to start looking at flies and 4pm has been a good time to get into some good caddis hatches.

I sort of feel a bit guilty hearalding the end of summer and a shift into autumn, especially as it is mid August so I hope I am well and truly wrong and that we get a nice Indian summer to end off the season.

Maggie at one with the Taw

It feels like Exmoor is still getting the lion’s share of rain when it falls, which is good for those fishing the tributaries and those below the Mole junction of the Taw but, like I said earlier, the season has been a good one to us further up the line and one that I hope continues.

I have been tying flies a bit more of late and after a day on the river I give a bit of thought to what has gone on and how I can tie something that might be of use when I am working. During the season tying is more of a necessity than a hobby, so that I have enough of the right flies just in case a few go astray. I do it because I need to and I don’t have a problem with it but I like to get them done and ready rather than lavishing great love on them. That having been said I have really been enjoying it of late and have come up with a few easy to tie patterns that like the description says are easy to tie and catch a few fish. Foam has been one of the main materials and I have a balloon caddis that takes a few minutes to tie and floats like a cork and an emerger pattern that sits right in the film of the water and the fish love it. I’ll post some up at some stage.

Fly Fishing in Devon Fly Fishing Lessons, Tuition and Guiding in Devon

Lessons from fly fishing

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

The low water we currently have has made the fishing a little more testing than usual, but it also makes my job even more enjoyable, as it means we get to fish more outside the box than normal.

Gary on days guided fishing

There have been times this week when I have been switching fly size from an 8 to a 24. There is a pool on one of the beats at the hotel that has just about everything for an angler. A nice lively tail, a slower belly with a nice bank where the fish can hide and a really nice riffle at the head. The belly has really been the interesting bit and the place where most of my fly changes have happened this week. The flow is slow and the fish have all the time in the world to make the choice if they want to take the artificial fly or not. It runs right up against a few root systems from trees and it breaks the flow a little where micro drag can be an issue. Just about every time I have been there a few fish have been rising and it has been great fun getting them to take.

Paul on one of our learn to fly fish days

I have also been checking water levels on the Taw before I go to work each day and since the trout season the most the river has risen is 1/4inch. I think the rain on Friday and Saturday night has brought the river up a similar amount but the fish have seemed to bite harder when there has been just a drop of rain. I have also started watching water temps a little more and the water has been sitting between 11 and 12 deg c. Sometimes though I think we might just think about things too deeply and we can get bogged or influenced a bit  by things we see and hear.

Rennie puts his switch rod through its paces

At the end of the day all the fish needs is food, oxygen and shelter and as long as the requirments are fulfilled they’ll be happy. Our job is to get the fly to them without them becoming alarmed and if we do, we’re in the game. It reminded me of last weekend when I was guiding Gavin and we fished a dry fly on a 5ft 13lb level leader. You know what? He cast the fly to them and they were happy to rise to it!

Tim lets one fly on a learn to fly fish day

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Devon Fly Fishing Guide

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

I’ve just been complemented by Emma on how tidy I have kept the table next to where I sit. It doesn’t sound that interesting or noteworthy but in some small way it is. To the casual observer it looks like a pile of junk with fly boxes, nippers, books and loads of magazines piled up on it.

To me it is a place where I know that I need to head for when I’m looking for something. I know that my tide tables will be there and the article that I meant to get round to reading will be there. The needle knot contraption I use on new fly lines is there, along with a couple of camera cables that are always on hand to download the trophy shot. All this on a small table which measures 14″ x 16″!

I also managed to balance, actually topple is a better word, my morning cup of tea on it too. This is a real act of skill and needs to be seen. It certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted!

Of late I have tried my best to try and make it look a little more presentable and I think I am getting there. I plan to do the same with the back of my truck this year too. I am not going to go back and look but while I am writing this I have an awful feeling I promised the same last year. Well, I mean it this year…

Paul and grayling!

It was good to meet up with Paul again and see him catch a few grayling too on his most excellent Bannister rod. Paul is just the perfect gentleman and loves every second he is on the water! It’s always a pleasure to spend time with him.

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Getting there!

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

It has been really nice to see some more consistent rising trout. Up until a week or so ago it was more a case of an odd rise or “oncer” as I often call them. The nymph has generally reigned supreme with the odd slash at the dry. It feels like things are starting to change now and perhaps the tungsten bead heads will be consigned to the back of the fly box for the time being. I really love this time of year being a fly fishing guide. It isn’t about going through a routine but scanning the water and looking for what stage of the hatch the fish are interested in and in what bug. It can often be the case that you see a large number of one fly on the water but is it the one the fish are taking?

Grannom can often mislead and when you have a large blanket hatch it is easy to miss the odd large dark olives that the fish are really interested in. It was the case with Richard yesterday and the momnet we tied on a compara dun the magic happened!

Comparadun strikes again!

The lake although still looking new has seen plenty of action and was christened with a group of 4 novice anglers. Stephen, Mike, Charlie and Mike all went home having learnt to cast and caught a few fish too.

The guys tackle up!

Gordon has been fishing for a number of years but wanted to learn a few new tricks in presentaion and casting generally. We did this on the lake and then headed down to the river to put it into practice. I also showed him how to fish spider patterns as I know where he fishes and there is a stretch that suits them perfectly!

Gordon swings a few spiders Fly Fishing in Devon Fly Fishing Guides

Fly fishing, warm weather and getting ready

Monday, February 1st, 2010

I don’t know if you are the same but, for me, getting ready for a fishing trip works in 2 stages. I like to know I have everything that I am going to need and then I get excited in the last few days before I go and then pack everything at the last minute and spend the trip to the airport worrying I haven’t got everything I need or perhaps, if I do, is it enough?

I am pretty sure I have everything and am generally pretty well prepared. I have decided I don’t need too many clothes which means I have more room for gear…just in case!

The really funny thing is flies. This is especially the case with bonefish. I have hundreds that I will be taking but all I actually use is 6 or so that sit in my shirt pocket along with some nippers and spare tippet but its a good feeling to have the others with you just in case , right?


I was told that a particular pattern is working really well on permit right now but you can’t buy it in the UK at all. I’ve looked and it isn’t available but you can bet I’d have had a dozen of them just to be on the safe side. I wonder if the fish know?  Fly Fishing Lessons, Tuition and Fly Fishing 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.

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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