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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Posts Tagged ‘Fly Fishing Lessons in Devon’

Just sometimes….

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Just sometimes everything slots into place and gives you that nice feeling that you are doing your job as a fly fishing guide as good as you hope and, more importantly, what your guest hopes too!

I was guiding Stephen who I have guided a couple of times before; the first time I guided him several years ago he managed a memorable 16 inch trout on a dry. As I am writing this I seem to remember that this was one of those hunches that worked out but that story will keep.

This time, we had picked up a few trout as a blue winged olive hatch had started to get going and we came to a spot that I have had some success with in the past. It is a place I know sea trout like to hold in. I didn’t land any from there last year, although Gavin was broken by a really big fish that snapped at a mayfly with a pretty chunky leader on. The year previously though, the best spell I had was 7 fish hooked in 3 days. Sadly not all came in but it was nice as we got them to take in bright sunshine.

So, we came to this spot and I told Stephen that it CAN be a good spot but to be honest it hadn’t produced this year but the water level had come up a tiny bit and it was worth a try. Stephen’s first cast was a little short but a small trout hit it anyway although it came off. Next cast was one the money. Right under the low branch and into the pool. “Whack!” Sea trout don’t go whack but I thought it would add to the dramatic effect!

Stephen struck and he was in to his first sea trout. It wasn’t a huge one but that didn’t matter. Land mark fish can be whatever size as they are special ones. He was over the moon and we moved up and saw a couple of larger fish move but they didn’t play ball. Stephen, there will be next time and thanks very much for your note:

“Hello Pete

Just a note to say thank you for the excellent morning and for your patience in helping me to make real progress in getting back into river fishing.

I don’t know whether or not the photos you took were any good but I should be interested to see the one of the sea trout.

Again, many thanks and I look forward to seeing you again before long.


I really enjoy guiding the “long shot” fish. I know we can catch sea trout at night and during a spate, but it is kind of neat when you can do it in bright sun and low water.

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Lessons from Fly Fishing Part 2

Friday, July 8th, 2011

I am just back from 4 days of guiding Pam and Alan on a Dorset chalkstream. I sort of know the water from a trip in the distant past when I fished it with my good friend Ray (The Dude) a few years back.

I really like these trips on waters I am not so familiar with as it test me as a guide and fishing chalkstreams also allows me to work on the fish spotting skills which I thoroughly enjoy. It is good for a guide to do this every now and again as it gets you thinking a little more and lets you work on honing your skills on a water you might not know so well.

"nice cast Alan, this could be the one"

It can sometiimes be easy to tie on the old faithfuls that work at home but they might not do the business on a different water. I am a firm believer that a guide doesn’t have supernatural skills as to when fish are biting but they simply read and analyse the conditions and fish the water and make fly selections accordingly. Guiding is about showing your guests why you are changing your flies or why you are changing the setup a bit, not gazing into the distance and muttering something about a special feeling or saying that your big toe is throbbing and the fish are coming on the feed…well, thats my view!

Pam does the business

I want my guests to be able to see why conditions have changed and then if they are fishing alone they have a really good idea of some things that might work to tip the scales in their balance.

Another fish for Alan

Anyway, the trip was a great one and Pam and Alan, as always,  fished beautifully and caught plenty of fish.  We had a mixture of bright sunshine followed by rain on the last day but it was great fun!

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Devon Fly Fishing Guide

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Well, we have had some rain at last. It feels as though all I have done is watch the water levels continue to fall and what little rain we have had until now has not made much of an impact.

The two Alans out for a days guided fishing

That having been said, the fishing has been pretty good. We’re through what has been a really memorable mayfly season and are now enjoying some great caddis and blue winged olive hatches. It has been great to tie on a dry and enjoy seeing the fish like what we cast to them.

Bob lets one fly

I have not tied on the ever faithful klink as much as I usually do and am giving other patterns more use. It will probably come as little surprise that they are little different from the usual offerings and my guests on the river have seen that, as ever, we like to look at things from a slightly different angle!

Gary knows its a good fish!

The rain over the weekend has brought the river up and given it just about a couple of inches of visibility, but I have a feeling it is going to drop pretty quickly again but my fingers are crossed it has been enough to bring a few more migratory fish up to us.

Steve and a fish caught on something a little different!

I thoroughly enjoyed giving a talk to the Worcester Fly Dressers Guild the other Saturday about fly fishing in Devon although I was a little nervous of handing over some of the flies I use for them to look at!

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Mayfly fishing in Devon

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Wow, the mays keep coming along with the fish. Big patterns rule right now and we have been working the slower stretches of water with size 8 may patterns. The hatch starts at 11am and I have still seen duns coming off of the water as late as 7pm.

Nearly a photo of a biggie for Don!

I have only been using one pattern for the last week that has been working really well for us in a good mouthful size 8. I think we are lucky that we don’t get as big a hatch as they see up in the chalkstreams but this works really well as our fly is not lost in the cast of thousands that can sometimes hatch on some of the famous rivers up country. We have been covering fish that have been on the mays or making speculative casts into where we think the fish might be holding and sometimes it works but you just don’t know where the take is going to come from. Cast to the likely spot and hold your breath…

Alexander plays a big one we think was a sea trout that wrapped us!

We are lucky having miles of private water to guide on so you know if the fish are biting you are not going to have someone step in front of you. We are over the moon that our newest beat is on fire right now and has a really good mix of deeper water and there is miles of it!

My good friend Luke works a pool

It probably sounds like guide speak but I really can’t remember a more exciting time to be on the river. I have a long stretch of guiding without a break coming but just can’t wait, man, I love the Taw!

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Fly Fishing Devon

Monday, May 16th, 2011

It has been another great week of helping reach new milestones in their angling careers from beginners up to the experienced. There is nothing more exciting than seeing everything slot into place!

Caroline has always wanted to try fly fishing and had 2 days with us bought for her by her husband Terry. Despite never holding a fly rod before she was throwing some really nice loops in no time and had a rainbow in the freezer at the hotel to take home with her. Next day she was on the river and made the step with ease, catching a few nice Taw brown trout. Caroline re-strings violin and cello bows for a living and was intrigued to see if the skills she employs on a day to day basis would be of use in fly tying. They would be and after showing her how to tie a couple of flies we tried them out on the river and the fish thought they were pretty good too. Really well done Caroline!

Caroline plays a Taw brown on.

I had Paul down for a Spey Casting session and showing him a few casts that he can put into good effect on the Wye in the next few weeks should have the salmon a bit worried. I think he did fall in love with my switch rod though and I had to prise it out of his hands at the end of the day!

Nick had tried some still water fishing and wanted, with his Dad Rod, to learn how to tackle moving water. We covered the casts and tactics and took them down to where they put what they learnt to practice.

Nick ready to strike!

Geraldine had tackled river fishing a bit before but wanted to get all of the bases fully covered so that she can set out on even more fly fishing adventures.

Looks like a big fish Geraldine

We spent the weekend covering everything needed to maximise success and enjoyment and how well it all slottted into place. Her timing was perfect as the trout are really starting to lock on to the mayfly and were really taking them confidently. She caught some really nice fish and also had our first sea trout of the season on a French Partridge.

It was a big one!

We did the same last year and had sea trout on dry flies. I have tomorrow off  (Tuesday) and haven’t cast at fish for almost 3 weeks so am itching to get going…sea trout on dries will certainly be on the agenda!

Lastly a special mention has to go to Mark. I guided him a few weekends ago and know how much he loves the Taw. I was amazed to see him in the Hotel car park as Paul and I stopped for lunch. Apparently he had got the 9am train from Paddington and then took a train to Eggesford where he had booked in to fish for 4 hours and was then getting the train home again….Dude, you are a hard core fly fisher and worthy of the Trout Bum label!

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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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Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Pheeeew! Well, it seems like we have been pretty non-stop with myself and members of the team out on our lake and river fly fishing with guests of our fly fishing school.

The really nice thing is the amount of people who like to come back and spend time with us. I think it is probably because we have so much water to show them that there isn’t always enough time to see it all on the first visit!

The timing of this post has been perfect as I have had a spell of returning guests who have wanted to get to grips with the trout of the Taw.

It was great to see Neil again after he joined us for a group course last year. He fished really well and with great skill to make sure he maximised his chances of success. It was great to see him back on the water!

Neil back on the Taw again

I guided Gordon last year and he was back to do battle with the trout of the Taw again. It was such a pleasure to see him get his fly in the hardest of spots and get the reward he deserved for it. I think the new Orvis rod helped, but that would sound biased coming from me!

Gordon with a brownie

I was with Gavin for two days. Gavin has been a great supporter of our little fishing school and I always enjoy guiding him. He is at the top of his game and fished just about the best I have seen him fish. We had a great time and I love that Gavin likes to fish a bit outside the box and always loves to be a part of my wild eyed plans. Last time it was sea trout on dries but this time we thought it would be fun to try and catch a fish on a mayfly on 1st Mayand after catching a few the day before we thought it was worth a try. He almost did it but the nice trout came adrift at the last moment…what are we going to do in June?!!

Gavin plays a fish

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Fly Fishing Lessons

Monday, April 25th, 2011

It feels as though we have entered a really busy period over the last few weeks with plenty of anglers out on the water with our team having a good time and catching a few fish.

Dan into one of our rainbows

The grannom hatch has been really good and we have taken advantage of it but now it feels and looks like that is over and medium and lighter olives are on the trout’s menu.

Elizabeth lets one fly!

Lottie covers a likely run

Mark releases a fiesty Taw brown

There are some big sea trout on the hotel waters and I’ll get down and have a go at them soon. I also took out my good friend and fellow instructor and guide Brett and his friend Simon. They were down for Simon’s brithday celebrations and wanted to see if they could connect with a bass or two. It felt like it might be a little early but they were game and although they didn’t catch big numbers Brett managed 3 fish which was a great start to my saltwater guiding this year!

Brett and a bass!

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Fly Fishing Devon Rivers

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

I have a day off today and as I sit here in the garden writing, we were really pleased to see that the swallows that nest in our garage arrived this morning. I had seen them while having lunch while working yesterday and Emma had seen a couple pass over yesterday so we knew they were on their way.

Ash with his first Taw trout

On the river the best of the grannom is now over but there are still a few about. I have spent more time fishing the emerger stage of the hatch with my guests and it has worked pretty well. While guiding yesterday I also spotted a yellow mayfly who had jumped the gun a little.

Jason works a run

The big worry is the lack of water. A friend was telling me Sunday that water levels are already comparable to 1976 which, for those that can remember, are low!

It doesn’t seem to have affected the trout fishing too much and we have seen and heard the first round of sea trout on the hotel waters, but a good flush of water wouldn’t go amiss. The most the river has come up since the trout season has started is 1 inch. It looks like the weather is settled for the next few days but it won’t be long before I start rehearsing the steps for a rain dance.

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Wiltshire and learning by osmosis

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

I have been doing some casting in the back garden of late and have got the tape measure back out to see how all is fairing.  It can be easy to assume that seeing the backing knot disapear out of the rod rings means that you have thrown all of the fly line plus 10ft of leader which many think equals 100 odd feet. Sadly this isn’t the case and it can be quite sobering to see that it usually ends in the 80ft area.

I’m not one for huge distances these days but having the tape measure allows me to check on my tracking. If you want to throw any sort of distance you want that rod to track as straight as possible. When you are carrying a lot if line and your tracking is out it is like having a brick tied to the end of the fly line and makes the task a lot harder than it needs to be. As a right hander, tracking problems can often highlight themselves when the line lands on the water and a right hander usually has the end of the fly line hooking to the left or has the line laying from where the rod has stopped across the body and continuing to move from right to left.

The tape measure gives you a good clear idea of how straight the rod is moving and I sometimes let me back cast drop on the grass behind me to see that it is nice and straight. You’ll see that your best casts always run parallel to the tape.

It is fun to do and, although it doesn’t lend itself to fishing conditions too well, the ability to hit 90 to 100ft casts consistently and with ease will make the real life fishing casts of 50 to 65ft all the more simpler.

The really cool thing is that Emma has been coming out and watching and then joining in with a few casts. It is a dream of mine that she comes fishing a bit more and things look more like that will happen. It is easy to try and force things a little too quickly so I have also been careful not to interfere too much but she was casting away and throwing some pretty mean loops. We had set a target which she met and then the next day she said she wanted to try and beat it again. I didn’t cast but stood down by the end of the measure to see how things were going and to shout some encouragement.

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The next thing I know I see the leader pass over my head and another PB was reached! All this has happened because she has started to double haul. Now my memory isn’t what it was but I don’t remember teaching her to haul! It turns out that she had watched me doing it and mimicked it. The great thing was that it was spot on and worked perfectly. I just let her get on with it and she was carrying a nice amount of line and hit a very creditable 72ft. Clearly I started saying that she would catch fish anywhere in the world with a cast like that but I managed to calm down a little and, like before, we’ll keep taking small steps. Great casting Em!

It was great to meet up with my good pal Jim Williams on his home waters. No wonder the grayling of the Coln have so much to fear. I love watching him fish a longer rod and light line, he is class in a glass!

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