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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Posts Tagged ‘fly fishing lessons’

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Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

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Bashing the Balsam

Friday, June 6th, 2014

The mays are hatching, we have been flat out guiding and the Himalayan Balsam season has started. We try out best to keep it under control but it seems to creep up on you.

At the start of the week I made a note that it might need some attention and then a few days later it was like the day of the triffids.


Emma and I popped down and went to work on one of the beats that suffers the most and having read Theo Pike’s excellent new book I went armed with a scythe like some sort of angling grim reaper and a lot more knowledge.

Emma at work

Emma at work

We usually just pull the stalks and Emma went for that option but Theo says it is OK to cut it as long as it is below the first node of the stalk so thats what I did. The only time I have been aware of the word node is when talking bamboo rods so it felt as though there was some sort of angling symmetry.

The grim reaper!

The grim reaper!

The Grim Reaper

The Grim Reaper

We worked hard and long and had a quick lunch at the Fox and Hounds, did some more and although the river level has dropped back there was a bit of colour so I opted for dropping a salmon fly in a few holes. I really enjoy this method of fishing rather than fishing just one pool all season. It tests my skill and knowledge as an angler and is fun too.

There has been a slight delay with Eat, Sleep, Fish as I haven’t had a chance to finish things off but it will be out soon. As a guide, and as it is the busiest time of the year, I’m not spending much time behind a computer keyboard and I doubt any other full time guides are sitting behind keyboards right now, they are out spreading the fly fishing word and the ones I have spoken to are doing just that. I’m pleased.


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Opening time

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

March 15th has felt a long time coming but when I got up the weather wasn’t as good as the previous day but on checking the river it was perfectly fishable.

We were due to meet at 9.30am but I knew some of the guys would be a little early and it made me smile to see my buddy RFH just a few cars in front of me at 8.15am. I think he had slept as much as me the previous night and was equally excited.

Coffee drunk and beats sorted we hit the water in search of trout. We caught some too and the day finished perfectly with a couple of drinks and some fishing banter.

I am just writing an article for Eat, Sleep, Fish that will be out early April.

The next day was my first proper one of the new season and on checking the webcam I saw the river up 4ft.

Brett was cool about it and we spent the morning casting and we arranged for him to come back in May. Hopefully conditions will be a little more friendly when he hits the river for the first time!

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


Fly Fishing, pure and simple

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

I have needed to get outside for a variety of reasons of late to shake off some cobwebs, clear the head and just to get out there.

Nice hat Graham!

The river was almost where I hoped it would be. Just the wrong side of OK but I wasn’t going to complain. I had almost bullied my friend Graham into coming along as I wanted some company. He dropped his plans after my call and we were soon chatting in the car on our way to the river.

The plan was to share a rod, fish, talk and to see what happened and thatt was exactly what we did. The river was still a little out of sorts and the grayling weren’t as obliging as they can often be.

Fish on!

It didn’t really matter. It was just good to go fishing.

The Devon School of Fly Fishing – Fly Fishing in Devon

Eat, Sleep, Fish A not-for-profit fly fishing ezine sharing our love 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!

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The clock is ticking

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

I could write all sorts of stuff about counting down to the start of the trout season here in Devon but if you are reading this you know that already and we have all been peering out of the window each morning thinking to ourselves “nearly there”, right?

I’ve said before that I’ve been tying a few flies and but don’t want to bore you with those pics of flies in vices etc. I’d much rather go out and road test what I’ve been tying so that when I tie one on for a client I know I’ve got it just about right.

I was fishing solo on Tuesday and went looking for some grayling. When I got to the river I rigged up and a lone Large Dark Olive landed on my finger. Now, I take these things as a sign. You can look at it two ways. Firstly, that this is as good as it is going to get today and things could go downhill from here, or secondly that you are hitting the river at just the right time and you might have had a bit of good luck. I prefer the latter and despite the good omen fished the first pool with a nymph as I hadn’t seen anything move. At the tail of the next I hooked into a nice grayling and took a picture of it in the net before releasing it.

Next pool and I saw a rise. I held fire for a bit and the tell tale bubble in the rise told me a grayling was coming on. I tied on a grey klink that I had on my patch from the day before and cast. It was a nice, positive rise and the fish was mine. A smaller one but it was a great start. I added a nymph to the dry and decided I would snip it off if I saw another rise.

Just round the corner I saw one, took the nymph off and covered the fish. Nothing, but I also saw there were a lot of midges about and I tied on a #24 black klink I’d tied recently and the fish thought it was OK and took it.

One more rise and this time the grayling didn’t want the small fly. Perhaps the good number of midges was masking the odd, further, Large Dark. I laughed at myself talking about “masked hatches” several months before I usually do.

The pattern continued and I kept mixing things up and catching some nice fish. I did have a few mishaps. The screw that holds my net handle decided to come loose when I was putting a fish back and at least it was at a time when I knew what had happened. I have had this a few times when you reach for the net and there is nothing there. I’d hate to lose this one as I really like it and it cost way more than any sane person should spend on a net.

I had been thinking about having something to eat and was going to fish one more pool when I noticed that the sole had come off of my wading boot. The fishing was too good to worry about it and as I did a sort of limp into the next pool I was making sure I didn’t loose the whole sole as I wanted to keep the tungsten studs that were in it.

I cast up against a bank and the dry dipped, I hit it and knew it was a good fish. Thump, thump it went and headed upstream. I hadn’t seen it but managed to get it under control and netted. It was a great fish and one I was really pleased with. I took a pic and slipped it back. Time for something to eat.

I limped up the bank and realised that not only the sole had come away from the upper but the whole section had come away meaning that just about everything could get into my boot making it a bit tricky to keep on fishing. It seemed right to stop there anyway and I headed home. So if a LDO lands on your finger first day of the season I hope it brings you some luck but keep an eye on your waders too!

Eat, Sleep, Fish is ready and I will be publishing it on Friday (I think) There is another good mix of fishing and if you like it please let me know.


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Fly Fishing Devon

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

The weather is cold, the wood burner is alight and I could talk about tying a few flies or I could go and do some fishing. I decided on the later as I think tying is a cop out when I am sitting here in what most of us would call a perfect grayling day.

Tie flies or go fishing?

It turned out to be a couple of day’s fishing and I am so glad I went. The fishing was excellent, the company brilliant and all in all I had a great time. I had arranged to meet my friend Dean who was keen to pop his chalkstream grayling and had come down from South Yorkshire to do so.

First day was just above zero but after meeting up we were soon in waders and in to fish. Dean is a catching machine and works the water methodically and so effectively. I followed him up the river and everytime I looked up his rod was bent. As a host there is nothing more pleasing and it saved me hopping out of the river to see how he was doing. I even bumped into RFH who was fishing just a bit downstream who wanted to have a go of my rod. He was trotting maggots and I secretly think he regretted not having his fly rod with him.

The fishing switched off just after 4pm but Dean and I carried on for a half hour or so, just to be sure and had a quick drink in the bar before having a hot shower and some dinner. Well, that was the plan and we didn’t really get back to our rooms and Emma, Dean and I rolled back to our rooms just before midnight having eaten and drank well.

With a slightly heavy head I poked my head out of the window to see that the snow had continued overnight and it couldn’t have looked prettier. Dean put any signs of a hangover aside and was on fire. I wish I could say I was the same but held up my end with a few fish too, although he hooked a bunch of grayling out of a hole I’d not managed but I was too fragile to put on the heavier fly that was needed. Well, thats my excuse!

All in all it was a great couple of days and again it is why I love fishing so much. Sharing a few fish and beers with good friends. Now where is my vice?!

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Fly fishing in Devon

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

The weather is all sort of mixed up still. When we drove up to meet Jim and Ian the other day there were daffodils out in the next village and it was a good 12 degrees and on the river there was a really nice little hatch of Large Dark Olives.

It is often the time of year when some talk about refilling their fly boxes but there are grayling and pike to be caught, along with the small stillwaters that offer a good winter fix of fly fishing.

I have tied a few flies but can’t seem to get into the same groove as this time last year but suspect it has something to do with the lack of snow! Those I’ve tied have been mayflies and a few variations on nymph patterns that worked well last year.

It was good to be out teaching today and to meet up with brothers Alan and Brian. They both like to fish small stillwaters although Alan lives right on the banks of the Teign. He is also off to New Zealand in a few weeks time. Although his trip is business related he has managed to get a few day’s fishing on the North Island.

They are both self taught and wanted some help with their casting. They had done a really good job and it was just a case of refining a few things. This meant we could play with casts for different fishing situations whilst showing them loop control and getting the most from their rods and lines. We also played with some different fly lines so they could see the differences between short headed and long headed lines and how to get the best from them.

We also hopped down to the river to get an idea of what the differences between still and moving water fishing are.

Man, I hate my job!


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Thanksgiving sea trout

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Emma and I made our second trip out to Denmark to see Ray (The Dude), his wife Christina and their daughter Mia for Thanksgiving. It has turned into a really nice tradition and this year was our 11th . It might appear a little strange that 2 Brits and a Dane are joining an American to celebrate a strictly American affair but it harks back to the days when The Dude lived in the U.K. and was a long way from home so we thought it would be fun to hook up and help celebrate.

Last year we got snowed out but this year it was mild and after some excellent turkey and pumpkin pie we headed out on Sunday to go to a Christmas fair at a nice place that was an old monestary with a mill which meant there had to be a river nearby.

Dude and Al with a NZ fish

The girls headed off to learn how to make a few Christmas decorations and Dude and I headed off to a hall area where they were serving coffee. We sat talking and noticed that the hall started to fill and they had wheeled out a piano. It turned out that there was going to be a few carols being sung. We thought it might be nice to hear but we both slightly panicked when they started handing out song sheets. This didn’t look good. There is no way I would inflict my singing voice on anyone. I remember when I was at school and the music teacher thought I was singing out of tune on purpose. Since then I do my best Cheryl Cole impression and move my lips to the music.

Just to make things worse though the words were in Danish. The lady at the front started to show everyone the warming up excersises before launching into the first song with great enthusiasm. The assembled crowd were loving it as Dude and I just looked at each other. I have never heard Dude sing but knowing he is now fluent in Danish made me think his vocal talents were similar to mine as I didn’t hear a note come from his lips either.

Now, I pride myself on my manners and I wouldn’t dream of walking out after one song as it would have been rude but how long are you supposed to wait? 40 minutes later I saw the leading lady walk behind the piano to grab something and thought that was our window to escape. We made our exit.

Checking on the girls, they were still doing their decorations so I suggested to Dude that we head outside to look at the stream. It was pretty small and clear but I saw a large splash. The light wasn’t great and I had no sunglasses to see what it was. As the sun was in our faces we headed to the other bank through a mass of trees so we might get a better look. We couldn’t see anything but walking upstream a bit Ray saw one big sea trout then another. I’d missed them but was dying to get my first glimpse of a Danish fish. To do this I did something I haven’t done in a while and that was climb a tree. Some of the magic was still there and I managed to get up high enough to give me a better view of the river and I saw a few fish. They were big.

We walked further upstream. By now my shoes and jeans were caked in mud but we saw a guy standing in the water by a small footbridge. We saw a few more people and some were holding nets. We then saw what was going on.

It turns out they had been electro fishing the river for sea trout and then milking them for eggs. They fertilise them and bring them on in their own little hatchery. It was a great little operation and we got to see some real big sea trout up close. The guys belong to a fishing club which, when we got back to Dude’s, we looked up. The great thing is that the club is based right by where Dude lives so I am hopeful he will have some guys to go fishing with.

Just back from some grayling fishing and yesterday was the first day it felt cold. There were just the slightest hint of a small hatch every time the wind dropped and Toby and I even had a few fish take a look at the dry.

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A clear head needed

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

We had some friends over for something to eat Monday night. Emma had done an amazing job with the food and I’d sort of acted as her sous chef but I often feel my bumbling is more of a hinderance than a help. The food was a huge hit and we made sure we kept the wine flowing. Come to think of it if the wine were a river it would have been more of a small spate.

I’m not really a drinker and can take it or leave it but I do like to sit down with Emma and have a glass of wine at the weekends which has become a neat little tradition.

I woke up on Tuesday with a slightly wooly head and as it was clear and bright a few hours fishing would be the perfect cure.

On the way to the river my truck started to misbehave and seemed to lose power. I got to the motorway and thought do I head to the garage or go fishing?

Not exactly a hard one and after pulling over and restarting the truck it was fine (ish) so I decided to hit the river.

I’m glad I did. The water was in good shape, despite the rain, and for the first time in a while I didn’t need my fishing jacket.

A simple dark hare’s ear tied on to shrimp hook and a pink tungsten bead was my first choice and the fish didn’t seem to mind it too much. The first couple of pools brought a couple of small fish.

Just up from this there is this really nice corner that screams fish. I know there are always loads we encounter but this one is just about perfect. I bumped a fish and then hit one soon after. It was nice grayling.

That is how the fishing went and I continued working up the river catching the odd fish. I even saw a fish rise just the once.

I decided to get out and walk back to my truck which, thankfully, was fine. That was until I got to the hill just by my house and it started to play up again. Apparently it is called limp home mode which is where the computer takes over and cuts power right back so that you have enough to get you home. It is fixed now and was just a blocked pipe of some sort.

We were fed some of the nicest pork I have ever eaten by Jan and Keith last night. Jan is the terror of Kennick and there are not many people who know it better. Keith doesn’t fish but can hold his own in any fishing conversation and is probably the perfect example of learning something by osmosis! Any pork left Jan?

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