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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Posts Tagged ‘fly fishing lessons’

Wrong sort of leaves?

Monday, November 7th, 2011

I hit the river last week looking to catch a few grayling. The weather in Devon hadn’t been great but there was a break forecast in the rain and so I hit the A303. the thing I forgot to mention was that there was a bit of wind due instead.

Wind doesn’t bother me too much, despite fishing a 2wt rod and I had decided to fish a beat that was a little sheltered anyway. You might think it a wise move (perhaps not) but it did turn out to make things just a little more interesting as the wind was doing one of the many jobs it does. One of those at this time of the year is clearing the trees of their leaves.

The lovely flow lines that bring the grayling food and oxygen were also carrying the leaves off. To be honest, it was a little bit of a pain as both my dry and nymph did a pretty good job of clearing the river of leaves. Most of the leaves come off with a brisk false cast but others try and hang around a bit longer and can make an interesting mess of your leader!

I decided to fish the edge of the flow lines and the fish had similar ideas and it appeared they were staying clear of the debris too. I found a spot that was just above a deeper pot that I could see a few grayling in and had some great fun casting a double tungsten beaded nymph just in front of them and then gently lifting the rod when it was in front of them. I’d fish a few casts with one nymph then change it for another mixing the bead colours too. I fished a gold bead and had a couple and orange one and had a couple more and then a fly with a couple of pink beads on and had four fish. With the pink bead the fish didn’t even need the induced move and just hit it. I even had a couple of chub too that I can’t seem to remember catching on this river in all the years I’ve fished there.

After lunch I rigged up a French Leader and fished a couple of small nymphs. It worked well and I had a good number of fish and had on briefly a real hog that came off. It was good fun though and nice to be back up there again.

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Grass is always greener?

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

I had to drive over the Moor today to get to Plymouth for a meeting. This is the route I like to take rather than working my way over to get to the A38. It is probably a longer route but there aren’t many routes in the U.K. that are more beautiful. The other good thing is that I get to drive over a number of the rivers I like to fish when the season is on. These days I slow down and have a good look and sometimes park up rather than trying to multitask and trying to drive and look at a nice stretch of water. In the past Emma has asked me to pull over and let her drive as I try and cop a look at a nice stretch of water.

Today was a stunner. The sun was out and the water was pushing a bit but was crystal clear and I was imagining casting a dry into a few of the runs and dropping an nymph into some of the deeper pockets. At Two Bridges I took a left to Plymouth and looked back at the West Dart as it snaked its way behind me before heading up to see the pocket water of Blackabrook on my left. It looked stunning. No, not stunning, just too beautiful for words. It was the sort of day that you’d say “it’s too nice to be writing a blog I should be out there”. Sadly it couldn’t be as the season is over.

It got me thinking how bad I wanted to fish there, as I am only usually up that way to guide or fish myself and being there and not jumping out of the truck to fish felt a little strange. It also got me wanting to fish there all that more knowing I wasn’t able to. I guess this is a bit of closed seasonitis but these are the little things that get you through the winter I guess, along of course with the grayling fishing.

Talking of which I got out with my good friend Toby for a few grayling the other day. This was just before we had the recent rain and the water was low and clear. As ever, we just fished together, laughed and caught a few fish. To me, this is what it is all about.

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Fly Fishing in Devon

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Emma and I popped out for our first trip to have a look at how the salmon were getting on now that we have at last had some serious rain. I know I am not the greatest (or even near) photographer in the world but I tried to capture a couple of photos of what we saw. Don’t think there is the need for any more words really….

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A day with MFD

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

As much as I love the Taw I do love to jump in the truck and and guide on some other water that I know well. On Tuesday it was with Mike (AKA MFD) He is great company to be with both on the river and in the truck too.

He has a skill I would love. Actually, two skills I would love to have. The first is the ability to come back with a witty reposte. I am the sort of person who thinks I wish I had said that only when the smart reply I could have said pops into my head two days later. Mike just rolls them out with the added glint in the eye and I never tire of hearing his car ordering story. He is a regularly on the F & H water so make sure you ask him.

The second is more fishing related, actually it is fly tying related. The guy ties some seriously nice flies. I’m not saying this to be polite, he really does. They are beautifully tied and in perfect proportions. I always like to try and use my guests’ flies as there is nothing nicer than catching a fish on a fly you have tied yourself. I do have to confess though that 3 of MFD’s flies ended up on my fly patch. I know you’ll be reading Mike, so I promise I’ll get them back to you once they have caught a few more fish!

After a breakfast stop of a sausage sandwich, the food of any serious sportsman, we hit the river. I know Mike likes to fish a dry but it was a little cool and no signs of anything hatching so I tied on something a little bigger and juicier to make it worthwhile for the fish.

The morning was a great one with plenty of fish and a quick pub lunch. The afternoon we fished somewhere different and although the fishing wasn’t as hot Mike had some nice fish, both grayling and trout, before we headed for the drive back and some excellent banter.

I was working next day on the Taw so we stopped by Eggesford Bridge so I could check the water and look for salmon. Speaking of salmon, I’ll be telling you about my very near miss. I think I can just about speak about it now!

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

Back end fly fishing

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

It’s a funny old game. The leaves are falling, the tempertaures have fallen and there’s some colour in the water and you know what? The fish are biting pretty good.

I am out on the water just about every day and there have been a few mornings when I have peered out and thought mmmmm, this might be a toughie. It’s not like I don’t like the tough days. In fact I really like them. They are the days when you really think about fly selection, where you are going to fish and what might do the job for the day. I’ll carefully think about the beat we’ll be fishing and what will be the best for the conditions. Those I have guided will know I will have them leaping into the truck to try another beat if the one we are on isn’t fishing.

I was guiding Gavin at the weekend and it turned out to be one of those days where everything slotted into place just as I always hope they will. I took him to one of his favourite beats and we had a bunch of fish including a sea trout that we saw shoot out of his hidey hole and nail the Copper John we were fishing. It did his best to weed Gavin but some well executed side strain did the job and we netted the fish. We headed back for lunch at the hotel where the chefs always like to come up with something interesting to eat. Rob said he had come up with the ultimate fisherman’s lunch which he calls the Manwich. Tell you what, it is ideal fishing fodder.

We hit another beat after lunch and fish were soon on the dry. As the day went on the fishing went in pulses of activity but we took advantage of them. Just as we called it a day, the skies opened and the rain fell. It couldn’t have been better timing.

Just back from guiding on the chalk with the legend that is MFD. Report to follow shortly!

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Fly Fishing in Devon

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Fly fishing in Devon is not far off from the start now. Salmon starts on 1st March with trout fishing not far behind on the 15th. I always like to keep opening and closing days to myself to have a fish and mark the occassion by just being in the water casting at a few fish. Sometimes it might feel like you are going through the motions but after a long miserable winter I don’t care. I can’t wait and we are on the final leg of the countdown!

After writing this blog I plan to try and trim a few trees and start getting ready for the season. I was on the river yesterday with a great fishing club I belong to. As always there was a good turnout and a chance to catch up with, or meet, members you might not get to see through the season. It is also a good to re-aquaint yourself with the river and see a spot you might have struggled with during the previous season become just that bit more accessible after some careful pruning.

work party


Saturday was a case of from the fire straight to the freezer. I’d left behind tailing permit (photos to follow) and 92 degree heat for snow and low lying rainbows. Not that I am complaining, I’d enjoyed both immensely and it was great to help a newcomer, Kevin, on the road to becoming a trout fisher. He had done plenty of sea fishing and wanted to try his hand with a fly rod. Once he had mastered the idea of a climbing backcast the world was his oyster and he was up and running.


We are lucky being located with a lake and river so that we could cover all aspects of approaches to both still and moving water but I have a sneaking suspicion that he’ll be heading to a river some time soon. The trout better watch out!                Fly fishing guide and instructor in Devon,UK

Gone but forgotten?

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

I know I am not supposed to moan, I’m not a moaner by nature and don’t subscribe to the “poor me” way of thinking but when is the weather going to let up? I thought there might be a break this morning and a chance to pop out and throw a few loops but once again it is throwing it down!

This time of year is a quieter one for guiding for me as many of the rivers of Devon are shut and The Taw doesn’t have any grayling. It means I have to travel further to both work and also to fish. I use this time to catch up with all the friends I have promised I would fish with when the fishing season is in full swing. The travelling doesn’t bother me , you’ve got to do what you can to get to the fish and I enjoy the drive and enjoy listening to music on the way.

I was talking to a pal about driving tunes yesterday and one of my favourites to get the trip going is The Foo Fighters “Times like these”  along with anything by The Specials. I’m fishing Monday (weather willing) and they will be blaring out of the truck at stupid o’clock in the morning.

I was planning to write something about what defines good fishing and being the time of year that it is I sort of expanded that and got thinking about what defines a good season. I suppose it is lots of things. A memorable fish, a big one that you had to get to which was rising in a back eddy, one that you had tied a specific fly for on nothing more than a hunch and, for some perhaps, it is all about numbers. The really funny thing about this is how we always seem to remember the one we had on briefly and lost. I can remember loads of those occassions not just from this season but from a long way back too.

One I’ll never forget is a trip The Dude (Ray) and I made to Wales. The wind was blowing a bit and Ray was sat sheltering on a bank and I tied on a March Brown and was going through the motions a bit. I turned to him and probably said something along the lines of we really needed to get some food. As we have matured the days of fishing, fishing and fishing have eased just a very small notch and we now stop for some food every once in a while. Anyway, I turned to Ray and my rod just bucked over, seriously bucked over. I struck, felt a pull and it was gone. I have no idea about what it was but I know it was a big one and it would have been good to see. Funnily enough a similar thing happened to Ray on the same trip and as I have said before he is Mister Chilled but that one got to him.

I went through a spell in NZ where fish were just busting me no matter what I tried. I hooked plenty but went a couple of days without landing one. On one of those days we were on a river. It had split into two 10ft wide forks so Ray and I took a branch each. I came across  a really good fish rising in 4ft of water and knew if I landed my fly in the right spot he was mine. I even went as far as playing the fight out in my mind before I made the cast. He was tight in one the banks (aren’t they all?!) and there was a lot of roots he could wrap me on. It had been a case of fishing slightly heavier tippet and hanging on when they took and trying to keep them out but this fish was bigger and probably smarter. I thought that I would give him hard side strain into his bank so that he would swim away from there. Well that was the plan. I made the cast, he took, I held my breath and then struck. He was on and my plan sort of worked. Applying big side strain to his bank did stop him from heading where I feared and he shot out headed upstream a short way and bust me off in a similar spot to where he had been holding.  One of those things I guess. The funny thing is that the next day I hooked and landed a fish that I had a long chase down stream through all sorts of obstacles and landed that turned out to be one of the biggest of the trip. This was one I was amazed that stayed on!

 I am hoping to fish on Monday and will tie a few extra flies just in case we do get out…..

The beard has settled down a bit now but I am not sure I am in it for the long term with facial hair.

Below is a pic of the stream in NZ where the magic nearly happened, unremarkable looking with remarkable fish.

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Being a fly fishing guide

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

I love my job more than I could probably write down but as my life revolves entirely around fly fishing I somtimes wonder if when I meet people for the first time (outside of fly fishing) that I worry I am going to bore them within a few minutes talking about fishing. John Gierach said that a good fly fisherman can turn any conversation to fly fishing but I often find that when you are asked what you do for a living it is often enough to get the conversation going on a fishy basis.

In the grand scheme of things it probably strikes most as a pretty uninteresting job ( to those that don’t fish) and compared to “real” jobs it doesn’t really rank that highly on the important scale.  I guess it is no different from teaching people to ride or even drive a car. That having been said I have always wanted to be just a little different (not too much) from the norm and being a fishing guide is just about “out there” and you know what? I like it just that way and man, do I love my job!

Grayling have been the target species of late and Faure was back to try his hand. I’ve a new name for Faure it is the “Inducinator” We found that by finding a pod of grayling that just a gentle lift was enough to make the difference between just a couple and picking off a fair few. We managed a few on dries too and saw a bunch of late mayfly. The fishing was pretty consistent throughout the day but as the afternoon turns to early evening and the sun is covered it just switches off. Sometimes you need these moments to get you off the river and on your way home at a vaguely sensible time compared to when it is summer.

It looked like there were a few other anglers on their way for some grayling and I hope they had a few too!



Lessons From Fly Fishing

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

There is always something new to learn in fly fishing. I think that is one of the resons I love it so much. It might be a new technique or new perspective that makes you think “mmm, I see, I’ll try that.”  The real nice thing is when it works and you, in turn, can share it with someone.

There are so many avenues fly fishing can take us up.  It might be casting, fly tying, entomology or rod building to name just a few and then you throw the actual fishing in too. The moment we think we know it all then the adventure is over and then do we just sort of go through the motions?

I was on the river with Richard The Trout Slayer the other day and watching him catch some nice grayling so I guess we’ll have to change his name a bit. Anyway, the thing that struck us was how much the chalkstreams are suffering through lack of water. It meant long leaders, small flies and gentle presentations and it worked.


We ditched the bright pink stuff and fished size 20 bead head pheasant tails and red Copper Johns under a dry. There were even a few taking the dry despite some pretty heavy rain. I had some nice photos of some grayling that he caught and a nice one of a grayling that decided it didn’t want to pose but Charlie, my daughter, had been playing with the camera and set it to macro. We wanted to get the fish back quickly so the photos didn’t come out but they are etched on our memories….don’t get me going about my memory!

Fly Fishing Tuition

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Well, I’ve covered a fair few miles over the last few days but there will be more of that in slightly later blogs. One of the trips I made was to Wales to our fly fishing instructor’s get together. I was lucky enough to meet up with a few people making their first steps into becoming fly fishing instructors and I was amazed by the high quality of people I met as casters, fishermen and as nice guys too. I guess our Association’s (AAPGAI) standards are high and having this sort of benchmark that makes it such a challenge to pass and such a reward when you have passed it. I was only there a short time as I had to shoot off  and whilst writing this blog have just had a call from Jim saying that sorry we didn’t get much chance to catch up…I hope we can get to fish soon fella!

I was back Monday meeting up with Chris and Joan for some fly fishing tuition who were over from the Isle of Man to learn how to fly fish. Chris had tried it once before but Joan was a newcomer. They are lucky enough to have both lakes and streams on the island so I gave them a good idea of how to approach both so that they can tackle anything the fish over there want  and we did a bit of fishing too.

It is great when people are learning together as you can show them what to spot so that if they are out and something doesn’t go to plan they can help each other out.


It was great to see Joan land her first fish! At the end of the day it started to get cool so we headed back in for a cup of coffee and in Joan’s case a hot chocolate and rum and reflect on a job well done!

It is typical we now get some rain and I guess I’ll be watching the salmon making their way further upstream.