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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Posts Tagged ‘Fly Fishing Instructor’

A great time of year

Monday, January 17th, 2011

January can be a great time of year as lots of new things hit the tackle shops ready for the new season. There is nothing more exciting (well almost!) than heading down to the river or lake with a new purchase and put it to work on the fish. We were lucky enough to pop up to the Orvis HQ in November and caught a glimpse of what will be new for this season. I had to be restrained as there are a few new things I could be stocking up on!

Flies are a tough one though. Companies must constantly be trying to bring something new to the market which is a must-have pattern for the fly box; something that will work when nothing else ever has. Perhaps it isn’t as extreme as that and  is probably more that we are being offered an alternative and it is always fun trying the new flies.

This is the great thing about fly fishing. There are so many alternatives which we can explore when it comes to flies especially if we tie our own. Hands in the air if you always tie a perfect dozen which conform to the design of the first one? I can’t hold my hand up as I just have to tinker a bit. For me, winter time is  when I tie the ever faithful flies that serve me so well. It’s also a great time to tweak some, or think about fishing situations I faced and how to overcome some of them. Just getting the fly to sit or fish differently in the water might just make that subtle difference. I  love doing this and get a thrill when the new fly I was working on actually fools the fish!

January is also a time for resoloutions and Peter’s was to learn to fly fish. We were only too happy to help him on his way. Watching a newcomer make their first roll cast can tell you a lot about how they are thinking of using the rod and it became apparent that Peter had got it. As the weather had been miserable we had talked through safety and how the tackle works in the hotel over a few cups of tea. It is a great way to start the day.

Peter and his first trout!

Peter did just fine and caught a few fish taking one home for his tea. It was brilliant to see him get as much pleasure making a nice cast as he did from catching fish. Well done Peter!

Fly Fishing in Devon Fly Fishing guide, fly fishing instruction and fly fishing lessons

Flying in for some fly fishing….

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

I had a call from Barry who was keen to take his team of Nina and Tony out to try fly fishing for the first time. I was only to happy to help and asked where he was coming from. It turned out they were from Chichester. He had a plane and had checked out that we were only a few minutes away from Eggesford Airfield so they could pop down do some fly fishing and also have a team lunch at the hotel.

They all picked fly casting and fly fishing up quickly and really got into it. It is unusual and great to see 3 people all pick it up so quickly. As they were a team we also had a bit of fun with who could cast the furthest and accuracy competitions. I seem to remember Nina won the distance but think it might have been Barry who was most accurate. It didn’t really matter as it was just for a bit of fun.

Tony, Nina and Barry

The weather on Friday was a little murky and Barry had been keeping an eye out on the low cloud (apparently not good news for flying but good for fishing!) but as we ended the gloom lifted a little and I gave them a lift back to the airfield as it was on the way home.

The cool?!

As we walked to where the planes were parked ( I hope that is the right phrase) I saw what looked like a vintage plane and I was even more excited when Barry told me it was his plane. Being a child of the 70’s I had grown up building Airfix models and can still remember a lot of the planes I had built and seeing a real one up close was pretty cool. It turned out it was a German training plane built by Focke-Wulf. This thing looked great and sounded even better as it took off taking the guys back to Sussex.

Heading for home!   Fly Fishing in Devon Fly Fishing tuition, lessons and guiding in Devon

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

A fishing life is hard work….

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

A good friend lent me a book the other day that he thought might be of interest to me. It is called ” A fishing life is hard work” I don’t know if you have read it or not but is pretty quite eye opening. It is about a guy who worked in the fishing industry and fell out of love with fishing until he had one of those epiphany moments and things started to change.  I think it got bad as it was at the stage where he would drive over a bridge and not peer over…man, that’s bad!

I often worry I am going to lose the truck in the river when I drive over a bridge and try that tricky move of driving and watching the river. I have been know to stop on a bridge and get out for a quick look which, although tends to happen on quieter roads has made me unpopular with other road users. I think they just don’t get it or perhaps they have fallen out of love with fishing.

I am often asked if it is difficult turning your favourite pastime into a business and after a fair time now I can say no. If it is ever the case this changes then it is time to move on but how could you tire of seeing a stunning caddis hatch or watch one of your pupils make a cast that brings the big boy up for the fly?

If you are under the illusion that as a guide you go fishing every day or you are aching to grab the rod from your guest and make the cast then it could probably be the worst job in the world!

I met with Darren, Nick and Lance yesterday for a 1/2 day of  flycasting tuition. Nick and Darren are relatively new to fly fishing but had a really good grounding and along with Lance an insatiable thrist for knowledge. It is great when you have people so keen and they picked things up really quickly. This meant we could cover lots of topics and go into mechanics a little more deeply. I was amazed how controlled they were given the amount of rising fish there were on the lake!


They stayed on for a fish for the rest of the day and I hope the things we covered helped just a little bit. I found out it was Darrens birthday so a very happy one Darren, I hope you caught a big one!  Fly Fishing Tuition and Guide in Devon

Not again!

Monday, December 7th, 2009

I had hoped for an outside chance of some grayling fishing today. Alas the river is in the same state as last week but I am told that the weather might be calming down just a little bit from Thursday onwards.I met up with Andy on Saturday and we did some casting which was great fun. I can wait and the fish are going to keep.

  I popped out this morning to see how The Taw looked slightly higher up from where I work and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. The photo is from a stretch of water belonging to The Crediton Fly Fishing Club. I have been a member for years and this is one of my favourite places to fish. I didn’t get much of a chance to fish it last year but I have made a deal with myself that I will try and put it right next season. It is a great club and I guess this is down to the members who are a welcoming bunch with some pretty nifty fishers in their ranks too. It is probably a bit weird but I really enjoy the bank clearing sessions that they have before the season. It is a nice way to burn off some of the excesses of Christmas and to catch up and talk fishing.

taw 712

I have probably mentioned it but my 17 year old daughter Charlie has a boyfriend. I have dreading this for a while and had planned how I was going to “interview” him. I have always felt that I would need a pipe for this. I don’t smoke but thought it would make me look a bit more menacing. I sort of planned how I would lean on an imaginary mantlepiece with my pipe and ask him his prospects but would only really need to know the answer to one simple question. “do you fish lad?”. I thought adding lad would also make me sound a little bit more frightening. There would have been a sharp intake of breath and a draw on the empty pipe if the answer was no but I am sure Charlie would have prepped him and said that if the answer was infact no that he had always wanted to learn. It turn out that she has known him for a number of years and so have we and it is the case he is a really good guy. I guess it saves me a trip to the tobacconist.

Lack of fishing has meant if I can’t do it then I am going to read about it. I have just finished The Earth is Enough which is a really sweet book and makes just enough of a pull on the sentimental heart strings.

Winter Beard Update- Used trimmers and feeling more comfortable. Toyed with amputation Sunday but will stick with it for the time being.  Fly Fishing Tution and Guiding in Devon

The Man in the Hat

Friday, September 11th, 2009

I met up with Nick on Sunday who was heading off on a fishing trip and wanted a few pointers with his casting and then wanted to hit the river and pick up some hints for rivercraft too. The really nice thing though was that he was keen just to have fun. I think we managed that and he caught a few too. This was despite the river still being a little on the murky side after all the rain but it was starting to clear down and we just about hit it right. Being Sunday meant that we were able to sneak a few beef sandwiches as the Hotel has a carvery.



Monday I was meeting up with Lindsay. He had contacted us and wanted to get to grips with fly fishing the rivers of Devon and to go in search of some salty stuff too. We covered some casting on some stillwater and then hit the river. We fished a nice section of the Hotel’s water and he got to grips with the Taw really quickly.


More fish followed and we moved to another beat in the afternoon where we came across some rising fish under some nasty low branches. No worries for Lindsay. He cast the Helios into the right spot and the fish liked our fly selection. It was a great day and we could see the water was coming into really good shape but with settled weather coming we opted for bass on Wednesday.

Tuesday I wasn’t with Lindsay as I had a booked casting session with Hannah for a little help with how to approach the beat she was going to be fishing. Hannah fishes the Frome and was new to spate rivers but when I saw her in the evening the big smile said she had done well! Funnily enough she is fishing The Test next week and I am up guiding up there next week so will no doubt be bumping into her in the Orvis store in Stockbridge! Tuesday afternoon was with Mike, Jenny, Alan, Alec and Roger who were on their second visit down to the Taw and wanted some casting tips and approaches to the water. It was really good fun and they have a great sense of humour and there was plenty of ribbing going on. The casting session was pretty much an open floor with them shouting a cast and me demonstrating it and then breaking it down to show them how it works. I’d then get one of them to come and try it.  I could see they were itching to fish so we did just that!

Wednesday I was back with Lindsay and we did some casting in the morning where we played with distance and really got his double haul going nicely and discussed drift and its impact on the cast. We grabbed a quick lunch and hit the salt. It was great fun and we hit the water early and found fish skulking around. I won’t forget seeing Lindsays face when a really, really nice bass slapped his clouser and headed off to the horizon. I’m not sure who was the most surprised but it was a real treat. Needless to say it was a nice one!

Thursday was a salmon day and we were hopeful as both Hannah and the group I had Tues afternoon had all seen salmon. We covered spey casting with a single hander first and it was really interesting as Lindsay comes from an engineering background and was really interested in the mechanics of the cast and was asking some great questions and we enjoyed talking anchor points!

We had beat 6 and as the water was coming down pretty quickly I though it might be a good spot as we had Bridge Pool by the salmon ladder. Mike, one of the group of 5 I’d had earlier on in the week, had a pull there on Tuesday and Lindsay thought he might have connected but that was the closest we got. By lunch we had bright sunshine and a rapidly falling river. It looked like a trout session in the afternoon and so after a steak sandwich we hit the bootm of Beat 6 and worked our way up.


Today we hit Beat 2 in the morning and did some small stream stuff in the afternoon with lighter lines. The morning was slower as it had been a cold, clear night but Lindsay winkled out a few fish and it was a testament to his skill with a fly rod as it wasn’t easy. The afternoon was a different story and with good numbers of caddis coming off the fish loved our dry. We got hit by something very tasty as the leader just popped when Lindsay struck and whatever was attached shot off. It was a great day!

I’ve named the blog after Lindsay, the man in the hat! Apparently he has Welsh ancestry and it sort of showed as we left for the day!!


So here is to the Man in the Hat!

Dude, where’s my fish?!

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Faure came back to spend a couple of days of guided fly fishing with us last weekend and we had a ball! The fishing was pretty good and the company was a blast. This time Faure made sure he didn’t get the sleeper train and had a more relaxing journey down and was ready to hit the river bright and early. We headed down to beat 7 and tried our luck and managed a few. The fish were on caddis and the hatches were coming in trickles rather than pouring. It was a case of 10 minutes of activity and then it would go quiet and then it would start again. We worked through one pool and saw a grilse of about 5lbs take to the air and then a larger slightly more coloured salmon of 9 to 10lb also go airborne.  We also couldn’t believe the amount of kingfishers we saw and this also added to the otter Dave from Portland and I saw the day before. These are some of the little things that add to a special day on the water.

Faure had got into the groove really well and was keen that he used my Helios fly rod again and I was happy to oblige as he casts a really nice loop with it!

We ended the day with a nice tally of fish but more importantly Faure had a good time and fished like a demon.

We’d planned some small stream fishing for the next day and although the fish weren’t as cooperative (we still had plenty) Faure coped fantastically with the challenges of threading his loop through the various obstacles to get to the fish. I love the appetite for knowledge that he has as it spurs me on even further. One of the highlights was showing him how to fish a small non descript spot and seeing his face as he became attached to a rather good fish!

As I think I have mentioned before I am no photography expert but I always try and get a photo of the day  for my guests and the couple below show that sometimes it doesn’t always go to plan!


Easy come….easy go….I’d got the shot lined up but the fish had other ideas and Faure made a desperate lunge to try and catch the fast escaping trout!


Here’s what Faure made of his time with us

Hi Pete,

           just calling to say thanks for a great time this weekend. I feel truly confident to hit the rivers of Devon solo now, and I have memories that will last a lifetime. Apart from catching loads of fish, there were loads of great moments; dropping that fish, the big one that got away upstream (that was residing to the left of the fast water), the one in the pool that you showed me how to fish Dartmoor in, to name only a few. More than just teaching me, you provided an experience, one that covered many aspects of fly fishing, and one that made fishing both interesting and fun at the same time. Excuse the cheap pun, but I think you have helped get me truly hooked to flying. I would love to meet up again in September (one last time before the season finishes)
For a related post about Faures fly fishing exploits click here

Fly Fishing Guide

Monday, August 24th, 2009

One of the challenges of being a full time fly fishing guide is making sure you can get your guests fishing even when conditions might make you think twice. It looked like it might be the case when I had spoken to Dave from Portland about chances of fishing. We knew there was rain coming but decided to have a flier. Dave is as keen as me and I was secretly pleased that we had gone for it.

I mentioned he was keen and I knew he’d be early so I headed to the Hotel a little earlier as I had a hunch he might be there. Spookily enough he was and after a cup of coffee we hit the river. We started by heading higher up the Taw and despite a quiet start we started finding a few fish. We had to head for some shelter as the rain gods did there stuff but it didn’t put Dave from Portland off!


The rain stopped and we headed upstream a bit and Dave spotted a fish, cast to it and caught it. It was simple as that but it was all perfect. After lunch we headed to one of the Hotel beats and again we came across a feeding fish which hit the fly hard. It was a nice fish getting close to 12 inches.


One thing about Dave is that he is cool as a cucumber but when we saw a sea trout take to the air just in front of him I reckon I saw just a hint of the coolness slip just a tiny bit!

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 Lessons

Monday, July 6th, 2009

I had some ladies pop down for some fly fishing lessons the other day. They wanted to learn how to cast and how to fish. It has got me thinking about all this stuff about ladies and fishing. I’m not one of those who believes in pheromones but just simply that ladies are more laid back and if a fish comes by and takes then that is good news but no worries if it doesn’t. I might be wrong and the scents a lady gives off might cause a fish to bite but would it cause both female and male fish to act the same?

When it comes to casting the more relaxed approach certainly works as the whole casting process gets screwed up if we have an iron like grip on the rod. The other good thing is that ladies don’t have the same strength as us fellas and so quickly realise that the rod is a pretty good tool for sending our fly out to the fish than sheer muscle!


It was great seeing everyone throwing a nice loop and also understanding what a nice loop was and what you needed to do to get one. We always maintain that if you know what is happening and why, then you can always understand what has happened when the cast hasn’t gone to plan. Most of all though it is about having some fun and I think the ladies had that!

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