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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Posts Tagged ‘Fly Fishing School’

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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Feeling it…

Monday, August 20th, 2012

The river has been out of sorts again and after tying flies over Saturday I was hitting the Taw on Sunday. As the river still had a tinge of colour and some height, bugs were the choice and my trusty PTNs were the flies of choice. I did pretty well and had some nice fish, infact they were biting really well and I had a good number before I headed back home for lunch.

Emma suggested I hit another river in the afternoon and so I did just that. This one takes a little longer to clear and had just a little morre height than I normally like. My flies were getting down but it didn’t feel right so I made a decision to head off back to the Taw and a different beat. The one I chose is fed by a trib of the Taw and that was still pushing a little and by fishing just off of the flow I hit a few trout.

I walked upstream a little to a spot that I like to guide for daytime sea trout. Just below it is one of my favourite salmon pools. As I was fishing for the trout I kept a eye on the salmon pool as it is a place where they will often show. I realised I was getting that niggling feeling, the water was good it was really humid, it’ll only take a me 10 mins to walk back to the truck and get the salmon gear out and ready. “Sod it”. I did just that and was soon back making a few casts. It felt right.

About 4 casts later the line went tight and I lifted into a salmon. It was a strong fish that I could already tell had been in the river a little. I played the fish just the right side of a little hard as I wanted to make sure it got back.

You have to excuse the photo as I netted the salmon, took a quick snap and made sure it got back quickly.

It’s funny how often your gut tells you something and more often than not it is quite correct!

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Near and not so far

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

It is great to head out on a fly fishing adventure but sometimes, when the conditions are far from ideal, planning a fishing trip around the weather and finding some fishable river can be great fun. I was planning in a day with Toby. We were on the phone every few hours planning where we might head to after yet more heavy rain. The plan was hatched to head as high as we possibly could to fish this particular river.

We met a few miles below where we were going to fish and the river was pushing (quite a lot) but there was visibility in the water and I saw a mayfly spinner that I took as a good omen.

We set up our gear and it seemed that nymphs were going to be the only real option but the river where we were fishing is really small and overgrown and my usual 9ft 2wt rod was going to be too long so I used my 8ft 4″ 2wt instead. Toby gallantly offered me first shot and we were both pleased when a trout took my fly first cast.

This pattern continued and by fishing just off of the main flow we were able to have a really good day, when at the start of it we were just pleased to be out on the water.

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Fly Fishing Devon

Friday, July 6th, 2012

We’ve had 2 days of dry weather which has meant the level of the Taw has dropped just a little bit and the colour has dropped a little. The river still being high means it has a push to it and means I have had to look at the river a little more differently than normal. I love to cast a dry fly to a rising trout. I am sure there aren’t many of us who don’t but it isn’t going to be a winning combo right now. The lack of rising fish have proved the point but sometimes in conditions like this casting a larger dry into a slow, sheltered spot can bring up a fish or two but a nymph or better still a couple of nymphs are going to pay bigger dividends so that’s how I’m fishing right now.

Casting off of the main flow and into areas where the trout don’t have to expend too much energy can catch you a few and casting tungsten bead head nymphs are better still. These areas especially under tree cover can also be the domain of a resting sea trout and sometimes you can get lucky if you combine these areas with quiet wading and a good first cast. It has worked pretty well for me recently and again today.

I’m pleased with Issue 7 of Eat, Sleep, Fish and hope if you haven’t seen it yet you’ll enjoy some reading over the weekend!


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A little bit of perspective

Friday, May 4th, 2012

I’m not really one for believing in Acts of God rather than Acts of Nature. We were on the receiving end of one of those on Sunday when the unusual North Easterly wind lifted the roof off of one of next door’s outbuildings and sent it 100m to crash onto the roof of our house.

I can only describe the sound as though a grenade had been lobbed into the house, it went off and then a large chunk of our roof collapsed. The force of the impact forced open two locked doors in the next room.

My fly tying desk bore the brunt of the impact and certainly made it look more messy than it usually does.

A vice that means a lot to me was ruined and a load of material went with it too. Thankfully the flies I had been tying for the last few days (there were plenty) were in a plastic tub and are still usable and as the weather was going to be bad on Sunday I was due to be back up there tying again.

Thankfully I wasn’t when all of this happened and I don’t really believe in “what ifs” but I’m pleased I decided to cook a fisherman’s breakfast of sausages, egg and bacon instead of hitting the vice.

The structual engineer told us that it was about 1 1/2 tons of corrugated iron and timber frame that hit the house and writing this I am still looking at a great big pile of it. Hopefully it will be sorted soon.

What it did do is make me think about how seriously we can take fishing sometimes when all it is about is getting our fly to the fish without it spooking them. Sure, sometimes using 8X instead of 7X might make a difference but essentially we do this for fun and life is too short to worry if the hackle has been wound round the fly 3 times or 4 times I really don’t think it matters; let the trout decide.

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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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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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Fly Fishing in Devon

Friday, December 9th, 2011

As a full time fly fishing guide I am often asked what I do in the winter. There are a few things but one of the main couple are to replenish my fly boxes and secondly I get to go fishing.

I have been out on a few trips recently that I’ve written about and I was getting some gear rigged up for my next days fishing. This time of year I really enjoy fishing nymphs and where I am fishing the water is low and clear and it lends itself really well to french nymphing. I was getting the leader on my reel and felt a tugging at the end. Despite fighting the urge to strike I saw that one of our cats was having some fun with the long leader as I got it rigged up. What I didn’t realise was how much fun she had and had bitten rather a lot of it and it was one of those sickening moments when you can see the marks on the leader and when you give it a gentle tug it parts. Sadly there were quite a few of these and I had to bin it. She has this butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth looks and so I couldn’t get angry plus she had been well trained with my chop stick and string casting routine which meant she had gotten pretty good at catching the line when I tried to curve it around her.

The Leader Muncher

The other thing I like to do is tie flies when it means I can’t go fishing. It is one of those things that I have to be in the mood for and I’ll sit and tie a bunch of flies or I have been thinking about the season just gone and have thought ” I wonder if I tie it like this it might work better ” Today has been one of those days and I have had a few “brainwaves” I have come up with a few ideas that I’ll try soon for a quicker sinking nymph (not just extra weight), a new sort of mayfly emerger and a fly that I think is a whole lot better for using as part of a duo or trio set up. It is easy to tie and I have just tweaked the early prototypes I used last week. I find it more fun to try and tie something to fit the purpose rather than hearalding the latest fly from a fly company as the latest and greatest. It is also good to show the people you are guiding why you are tying on the fly and why you have tied it rather than just tying on a parachute adams ( great fly though) and hoping for the best.

It is a nice feeling when sometimes the flies you have thought about during the winter layoff actually work in a real life situation. Not always the case though and I have had what I thought were perfect for the role flies hidden away in the crevices of my fly box!

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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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