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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Posts Tagged ‘Fly Fishing Lessons Devon’

Devon Fly Fishing Guide

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

The season is underway and it has been great to get on the water with people again. There has been rain and a fair bit of it at times but I’m not going to whine. It is March after all and things can be a little erratic. this time last year I was guiding in shirt sleeves. They say variety is good and I’m not going to argue.

I have been keeping a eye out for large dark olives and yesterday (Tuesday) I saw my first one. I am hoping this continues along with some good settled weather.

Philip makes a circle spey with his switch rod

I got a nice email from Philip after some tuition this week.

Thank you for all the information Pete it will be very useful it was brilliant.
 Your enthusiasm must be infectious , I am looking forward even more
to some great sport this year.  Many thanks Phil

My fly boxes are full and my waders are only leaking a little. I am hoping that a new pair arrives soonish and I plan to rotate to see if I can get a little longer out of them.

Barry nymphing in a rapidly rising Taw!

It was great to see The Wild Trout Trust auction raise over £52,000. I put an auction lot in with the hotel every year and was pleased to learn the person who won it last year won it again this year. I’m looking forward to seeing him on the Taw in May.

In the meantime I am getting Issue 16 of Eat, Sleep, Fish ready and it looks like there will be some nice stuff in it that we hope you’ll enjoy.

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Here’s to 2013

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Today, to clear the head a little, Emma and I decided a walk along my beloved Taw was in order. It was a perfect idea and a nice walk.

I love to see the river at times when I can’t fish it and as I walk along it I wonder how some of the features may be just a little different to the previous season. Spots where I know there will be a fish or at least hope there will be a fish may have just changed.

Where we walked is a spot I love to guide but also to fish myself. There is a nice little mix of water that lends itself well to both dry fly and nymph fishing and there are a couple of pools that are good holding spots for both salmon and sea trout too.

As we walked along the beat there was some wind, there always is there, but it would have been on the anglers back. I could imagine a nice little hatch of Large Darks trickling off.

It will be good to get out on the Taw again; I will have to wait a bit though, I don’t mind.

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Soon, soon.

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

It seems like a while since I have had a rod in my hand. I have done a few lessons but fishing has had to take a bit of a back seat. Once again this has been down to timing or planning things around a fishable river.

I have been doing a lot of travelling and it has involved the M25 which whilst stuck in traffic has had my mind drifting away to the river and grayling.

I have tied flies, more than I can ever remember but once again the grayling river is against me. That will change and I can wait but with our daughter, Charlie, home we decided to head out and I thought it might be an idea to look at a few rivers I haven’t seen in a while.

They looked nice, really nice and are now on the list to try and fish in 2013!

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Devon Fly Fishing

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

It has been an interesting time and I have had to fit work around when the river has been fishable. Although I have lost a bunch of days there have been a few opportunities and the fishing has been good when the windows appeared. The river might be fishable for a bit and then more rain on Dartmoor would see the it rise and colour. It is easy to get sucked into the old wives sort of stuff about things being delayed by a number of weeks but nature marches to its own beat and to those not on the river it might look like things might be late. On Friday I saw a few yellow mays and yesterday the mayfly (danicas) got going. I saw a few sail down the river and they were unmolested but it will only take a couple of the days for the fish to get zeroed in on them. At the very worst these are two days late.

I was guiding John. It was one of the windows I was talking about and the river was just about fishable but we had to venture further upstream. In the truck he asked me about hawthorn fly and I said they don’t really feautre that much as the river I guide on is heavily tree lines which stops a lot of the poor flying terrestrial fly from getting blown on to the water. It was a tough morning and although we’d had a few fish we’d worked really hard for them. I had though, noticed a couple of hawthorn float by. After lunch I took John to a pool I really like. There were a couple of fish rising and after they refused the usual suspects I found a couple of hawthorn patterns lurking in the back of the fly box. John went on to catch 6 fish from the pool and it made what was a good day into a really good one.

I was also guiding Brian and a similar thing happened. This time though they were splashy aggressive rises that left us little doubt they were on hawthorn. I’d tied a few more the night before but when Brian covered the fish there were no takes. The fish were hitting the flies upstream of us before I could see them but we changed a few patterns just in case I’d got suckered in to thinking it was hawthorn. We tried quite a few different flies but nothing. I noticed a mating pair of hawthorns that were on the water. Were the fish getting two flies for the price of one? I don’t know but the rises eased a little which made me think we were in with a chance. I tied the hawthorn back on and we were in business. Perhaps there weren’t as many coming down and the fish decided one fly is better than none.

I also have to admit that I had a slight stumble and shipped a little water. I haven’t done that for a few years and knew I was due one. It was the sort that you tell your guiding pals about as it wasn’t a head first, fully submerged fall but thought I should come clean.

So it looks like things are starting to really get going on the mayfly front and we are exactly on track, hopefully, some great fishing!

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Devon Fly Fishing 2012

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

With just under a month until the trout season kicks off here the countdown is now underway. I have been out walking the river beats checking out what needs snipping and trimming. I really enjoy this and love getting into the river for the first time in a while and know that when I am working I’ll be pleased that the low hanging branch that I snipped off will make my clients’ casts a little bit easier.

I’m not one of those who goes in with the chainsaw blazing as cutting things back a little keeps everything looking the right side of natural and also means there are some nice spots for the sea trout to hang out during the day. Keeping on top of things on a yearly basis ensures the start of each season is as I described, just a bit of trimming.

As I mentioned in the last blog I have been doing a little tying. I plan the tying around the order of the hatches so when the season ended I tied some grayling flies but also tied up flies for Large Dark Olives, both dry and nymph, and then Grannom. I have been playing with the emerger stage as this is the bit that interests the trout the most. Next up Mayflies. I have plenty of duns and spinners but again have been thinking about what will trigger the fish to hit the emerging dun. Caddis really starts to get going after the Mays so it has been balloon caddis and bullet heads. Then it is the midges. This is where I am up to and have been tying some tiny size 24s that I am really pleased with. I’ve a few terrestrials to do but having sorted the boxes this morn everything looks in good shape.

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Out of Order

Monday, November 14th, 2011

I was due to pop out with Toby for a few Westcountry grayling and was heading over to meet him when the phone went. It turned out that  his car had been broken into and some gear stolen. He was understandably pretty upset and had some stuff to sort out as a result of it.

I always try and look for the best in people but I can’t for the life of me understand what motivates people to feel they are entitled to take other people’s property. They were probably opportunist thieves and possibly had little idea of what they had taken. I know a couple of the rods that were taken had sentimental value and I am sure people who steal don’t think about things like this, or even care. I think that if these sorts of people are caught they should be made to confront their victims just to see what effect their actions have had. It is easy to steal something when you can’t see the rightful owner but how would they feel when they have to look their victims in the eye?

I was half way to the river and didn’t think I’d be of any help to Toby so I went on ahead. It was the first time I had fished this river without him and it felt a little strange.

The weather was a bit murky and the river had a very slight tinge of colour to it but it was perfectly fishable. I rigged up and tied on a dry and nymph duo style and cracked on. I had a couple of small fish nudge the dry pretty quickly but things went quiet for a bit. I worked my way up the river, focussing on the slacker areas of water and the slightly slower flows. The water wasn’t clear enough to stalk the fish so I worked on instinct and the fish started to come.

I picked up fish as I worked my way upstream. I didn’t knock the cover off of the ball or anything but picked up fish here and there. I spoke to Toby to see how things were going and he had found some of his gear down an alleyway so there was even some good news. He even talked about popping along if he could make his old waders waterproof in time.

It was past lunch and I fished up to where I normally get out but thought I’d try for one more and head back, working on the basis that if Toby did turn up it would be a shorter walk for him. I managed to get caught up in a tree in a really overgrown bit so hopped out and got in further upstream. There was a nice gentle curve in the river and I cast my fly upstream.

The dry dipped and I set the hook. I thought I had hooked a big out of season trout that first headed upstream and then down. There wasn’t much I could do with the fish but managed to keep it out of a couple of nasty snags and netted a beautiful grayling. I managed a couple of pics and slipped the fish back.

The weather was on the turn and any fish I caught after this one wouldn’t have done it justice so I snipped my flies off and headed home. I only wish Toby was there to have seen the fish.

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Winter Fly Fishing School

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Now that the main part of the season is over one of my main priorities is to try and not to over winter too well. From walking miles a day when I am guiding to not doing as much has an impact on the wader size and I do my best to try and keep it under control. Usually I do some running but after years of wicket keeping the knees aren’t as flexible as they once were.

On that front I have been thinking of dusting the gloves down again and have been thinking of joining a local team and playing the odd game and have been delighted to hear that in my forties I can qualify for the local veterans team. I always thought there was a chance to play again at a sensible level as there were professionals still playing the game like Graham Hick and Teddy Sheringham in the Premiership who are both a similar age but now they have sadly retired. I listen to sport now and see that guys now playing at the best levels are the sons of people I used to watch. I am sure in my mind that I can still dive across first slip to take the thick edge but I think in “real life” that I’ll let the guy in the slips have a go for it!

The other thing I’d be thinking of trying was cycling but I just think it is so uncool. I have to admit it is nice to see a bunch of people getting out and doing some excercise but when they are riding 4 abreast and holding up the traffic thinking they are doing a good speed it can be annoying especially when I am in the truck and have trout to catch.

Emma and I recently walked to a nearby village where the Tour of Britain cycle race was passing. It was all very exciting but we had walked 4 miles to see something that passed us in about 1 minute but as least we had a lovely walk.


There were a couple of guys standing there in their cycling regalia which looked in my mind ridiculous and then another one of them turned up and I listened while they talked in a technical language that sounded like gibberish. Emma and I talked about it on the walk back and we came to the conclusion that people would have probably said the same if I had stood there in my waders and had started speaking to another fly angler. That is the great thing about hobbies and pastimes. There are so many some might be of interest to some people but not to others and once you get into them they are great no matter how silly we might think as an outsider. That having been said my new Simms jacket is rather stylish….well, at least I think so!

Fernworthy Brown

I met up with Howard the other day to fish Fernworthy. The wind was pretty similar to what I had exeprienced at Colliford the week before. I used the same set up, a 6wt rod with intermediate line and black tadpole and it worked really well. I caught quite a few fish and once Howard tied on a tadpole so did he. I fished the lee side again and the fish were pretty well bunched and liked the fly with really short, brisk strips. I did have a couple on a fry pattern too but tadpole was the fly of the day.

I am just back from a couple of days fishing the chalkstreams and they have some seriously low water. It meant that the grayling were bunched in big pods and we also saw a few pike on the edges of the pods just keeping an eye on things. I’ll be writing more about this soon.

Westcountry grayling are back on the menu this week so with temps dropping I’ll be sure to keep the knees warm.

My good friend Jim Williams has a new version of his site up which is worth a look with agreat blog too.

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The End?

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

The Taw has shut for the year now. I could get all teary eyed and reflect on a season that has passed but there is no need, I’d much rather do that in December. There are still bass, pike and grayling to catch. I am having a quick breather before I get going again and there are things like cutting the grass that has got a bit long and trimming the hedges which we knew needed doing. We did the hedges today and I am really pleased that that one has been ticked off.

The other thing is that I have got back is tying a few flies. I haven’t had the time to tie as many as I would have liked and I have relied on a few shop bought patterns and the last few of my “specials” that have lurked at the back of the fly box. I have never carried many patterns as I don’t feel the need and I much prefer to tie one on and make subtle changes rather than going for something completely different. The change up fly will be the same but might be a little smaller, or perhaps even bigger, or just a little darker. Often this will do the job as the river is telling me what is hatching, or not hatching. So the clues are all there.

Geraldine casts for salmon

I have been giving the flies I have been using some thought and in some cases I have tweaked them just a little. I really like this part of fly tying. Sometimes I’ll tie 1/2 dozen identical copies (or as near as I can get) and then sometimes they sort of mutate a bit and I start thinking what if I tie a trailing shuck instead of a normal tail? This can be really good fun to do and  is great when I sit at the vice, look at the flies and think, yup, they look good. It is even nicer when the trout give them the thumbs up. The only downside of this is that when I am experimenting I only tie a few and we all know that the life expectancy of a fly decreases when you only have a few in the box and the trout are biting hard on them. Then there is always that tree that wants to grab them.

I’ll put in a few of the new ones as I am out fishing with a good friend of mine in a few days and I’ll give them a go. It sounds like the good weather we are having is on the turn now but it will be good to be out there. I spoke to Ray (the Dude) who was hot footing it back to Denmark after a trip to Miami and he reminded me that we were wetting a line in Montana this time last year. I think it is OK to get a bit sentimental about that but I tend to let go after a while. Still banging on about a trip like that after a few years means you need to go on a new one and we have one in the planning. That’s the great thing about fly fishing there are so many great adventures you can embark on. Some may be a long way away but some of the best ones can be right on your doorstep.

Paul with a Taw trout

So is it the end? No way. As I said at the beginning there are still a lot of fish to catch if you know where to look and I can’t wait to go after them!

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Fly Fishing Devon

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Last weekend was my birthday. It is the sort of occassion that I get as excited about as I used to but I think this one was one of the best. Getting up early to a beautiful sunny morning I opened some great presents from Emma and Charlie and then sat down to a magnificent breakfast and some chill out time in the garden. We had some birthday cake for lunch and Emma suggested I hit the river to catch a few birthday trout. It sounded like a great idea and so I did just that.

The Taw

The river, although low, was looking good and I knew that grannom had been coming off just around lunchtime so I knew I was on the water at the right time.

Perfect timing!

I rigged up some bamboo and headed down stream to a favourite pool. It is really nice when you get there and the fish are just starting to rise.

A vintage Bannister rod

Judging by the rises they were at the early stage of the hatch and were taking the emerging pupa. I tied on one of my easy-tie balloon caddis and a really simple grannom pupa. I stuffed the first take but managed to get a few more out of the pool.

A Taw trout

I fished for a few hours and caught a few and had what was just about the perfect birthday!

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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

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