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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Posts Tagged ‘Fly Fishing’

Back on the Deveron

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

I think this is my 6th year of travelling up to fish the Deveron in Scotland. It is a wonderful river that is often overshadowed by the “big name” salmon rivers but I like it that way. It is the sort of place that is great if you know about it and you shout a bit about it Not too much that it draws too much attention.

This trip was different for a couple of reasons. Firstly that we decided not to fly. I am a little tired of the stealth costs of flying, especially when you are lugging a lot of gear with you. For this reason it made sense that we took the new fishing truck out to stretch its legs and I have always wanted to drive from the bottom of the country to pretty much the top.

The second reason is a pretty significant, and special one. It was to be Emma’s first fishing trip. I can’t really write how exciting this was to me and all the way up my fingers were crossed that we would have a good one.

We decided to split the upward leg of the journey by leaving on Saturday, staying in Kendal in the Lake District and then heading up to Banff on Sunday. Bar the usual traffic problems on the M6 we checked in to the hotel on Saturday night had a good dinner and excellent breakfast the next morning and headed north. That was, of course, before we made the obligatory stop at John Norris in Penrith. They very smartly open on a Sunday and the place was jammed full of fishermen making the trip up to Scotland who were eager to stock up on a few last minute essentials and even a few I saw who were getting completely kitted out for their fishing trips. It really is a nice store with friendly, helpful staff. It sort of reminded me of a store in Colorado The Dude and I visited a few years back that was the sort of place you wanted to visit before hitting the river.

As we made it just over the border into Scotland we passed over the Clyde as it snaked under the motorway. I think it was the third time we passed over it and looked to the left and it looked just like a stream from Mid West America. I really, really liked it!

When we got to the river on Monday it was just dropping, having come up a little. In my experience what usually happens is that after it has coloured it then goes a really dark peaty colour before clearing completely. As we are pretty much at the bottom of the river it means that the fish will run through pretty quick and so the top of the beats is the place to fish. That is where we started. We did see plenty of fresh fish along with a few coloured ones but no joys.

Circle Spey

On Tuesday we were towards the bottom and again we saw some fish but we didn’t really feel like we were in the game. I did have a trout followed next cast by a small sea trout.

Wednesday we were back at the top and in the afternoon Emma and I had the very top beat and the water was starting to just about clear a little. I was fishing a pool lower to Emma but heard her let out a yell and saw the rod briefly buck before a fish came off. I ran up quickly to help but the moment had passed. That was only before I had got back in and again Emma was briefly attached to a fish. The really nice thing was that she just laughed it off and made another beautiful cast.

Covering the water.....

It looked like the fish were on and not long after my line went tight and I lifted into a fish. I was guiding Paul just before we made the trip and he described the salmon he had caught as being plugged in to the electricity. That sounds just about right. Emma netted the fish, abeautiful hen, perfectly which we admired briefly before letting her continue her journey upstream.

One for me....dig the hat!

Thursday and we were back on the very lowest beats. Again Emma cast and fished beautifully and again was briefly attached to a fish that just didn’t stick. I had another small sea trout but despite covering the water well that was it for us.

Friday and the water looked really good but it felt a good deal cooler. Morning was quiet but after lunch it warmed a little and Emma chose her fly and decided the pool she wanted to fish. You know what? She was dead right as the line went tight and she lifted into a fish. I was standing by the truck putting an intermediate tip on my line as I had done with hers as we had fished fast sinkers all week.

The fish was hooked on the lip at the very tail of a pool and Emma expertly played the fish, keeping it under control. I headed out with a net and after a while the fish was netted. We thought we would keep the fish as it was a cock fish and Emma’s first salmon and so after dispatching, we hugged each other and I don’t mind admitting that I had a tear in my eye. It was the perfect moment and after all of the hard work Emma had put in she had been rewarded.

The reward for all of the hard work!

We had planned to fish the morning of the Saturday but thought that we would make the drive home in one go and so didn’t hit the water.

There were so many highlights of the trip but the main one is looking upstream and seeing Emma smile as she watched her line swing through the pool or being upstream of her and hearing her sing as she sent out another beautiful cast.

I don’t think it could have been a better trip. I think that the spinner outfished the fly that week but we wanted to fish the fly. It isn’t a snobbish, or certainly not an elitist thing – we just enjoyed making a nice cast feeling we were covering the water.

The other thing was that you don’t need a whole load of tackle or gear. As long as you can cover the water efficiently you are in with a chance. All we did was use a variety of differing sink tips and had doubles and various tubes. Emma used a Skagit set up which made life easy when you coupled it with a Circle or Double Spey.

Sometimes we get all hot under the collar with technicalities but there just isn’t always the need. We could easily say the Skagit line can land a little heavy on the water but when Emma had her first two takes it was in shallow, relatively clear water and the fish didn’t seem to mind too much. They are the ones who decide if we have done things correctly or not and they certainly don’t care how nice the loop was on the cast or if you have the latest “must have” fly on!

All in all though the fishing wasn’t the easiest but it was the most enjoyable. The truck was excellent (fishingmobile V.3), the food and accommodation outstanding and Emma, thank you so much for making this such a wonderful trip, I don’t think it could have been more perfect.

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

Devon Fly Fishing Guide

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

I’ve just been complemented by Emma on how tidy I have kept the table next to where I sit. It doesn’t sound that interesting or noteworthy but in some small way it is. To the casual observer it looks like a pile of junk with fly boxes, nippers, books and loads of magazines piled up on it.

To me it is a place where I know that I need to head for when I’m looking for something. I know that my tide tables will be there and the article that I meant to get round to reading will be there. The needle knot contraption I use on new fly lines is there, along with a couple of camera cables that are always on hand to download the trophy shot. All this on a small table which measures 14″ x 16″!

I also managed to balance, actually topple is a better word, my morning cup of tea on it too. This is a real act of skill and needs to be seen. It certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted!

Of late I have tried my best to try and make it look a little more presentable and I think I am getting there. I plan to do the same with the back of my truck this year too. I am not going to go back and look but while I am writing this I have an awful feeling I promised the same last year. Well, I mean it this year…

Paul and grayling!

It was good to meet up with Paul again and see him catch a few grayling too on his most excellent Bannister rod. Paul is just the perfect gentleman and loves every second he is on the water! It’s always a pleasure to spend time with him.

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

Practice makes perfect

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Well, fishing has had to take a back seat again after all the snow. I was due to go Tuesday and glad I didn’t as getting home would have been a bit hairy.

As a result I have been casting and playing with a few things. It is great to go out and throw a few loops and can be good fun to do so with a buddy too. The only downside of this is that all the good intentions tend to go out of the window and the tape measure comes out and and bit of good banter as you take it in turns to see what you are made of!

The tape measure can be sobering for the first-time distance caster as throwing a full line and a 10ft leader doesn’t actually equate to 100ft. It is quite a long way from it. I don’t tend to do this much of late as I find the body doesn’t enjoy it as much as it used to and lets face it there are few, if any, situations you are going to want to see the backing flying out of the tip ring.

I always thought this would be the case when it came to bonefishing but I have been amazed over the last few years how short a distance a bone can be caught. If anything I’d say a well presented 40 to 50ft cast will always put you in with a shout.

Up against the tape- photo by Lee Cummings

Up against the tape- photo by Lee Cummings

This is where the practice comes in, not just for winter trips somewhere exotic but getting you ready for the new season whatever you like chasing with a fly rod.

For me 15 to 20 minutes of good casts pays better dividends than going out for 2 hours and trying too hard to get it right. When I practice I’ll tilt my casting plane over to the side and have a look at my timing and loop control both hauled and unhauled. By throwing everything over to the side it becomes much more visual and allows you to see everything that is going on. I’ll then make a basic overhead cast in the normal casting plane. It is the foundations of all overhead casts and is easily overlooked. It is then I’ll play with a few Roll Casts and Speys. There are now loads of Spey Casts to play with but I’ll work on the ones that are most practical for fishing situations we encounter on the streams in Devon and the ones I teach most. I’ll then add a few mends, hooks and curves and see how it looks and see how it feels from there. If there has been something that has niggled then I’ll go back and give it a bit of work.

At our fly fishing school I’ll teach repetition (with plenty of breaks) as this helps to encourage muscle memory and when my student tries it out for the first time alone their body says “Hey, I remember this”

At the end of the day though the fish decide whether it was a good cast or not and this is what it is all about. It is nice to throw a nice loop in the field but throw in a rising fish in a tricky spot and try telling me that isn’t more exciting.

I’m not advocating to go out for everyday in the months before the seasons start. Life is just too short, but try it now again and you might be surprised the difference it makes and it is really, really good fun! Fly Fishing tuition,lessons and guide in Devon

Report from the Dude

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Ray is my fishing buddy and is so relaxed I call him the “Dude” after the character of the same name in the Cohen Brothers film The Big Lebowski. He has written a few words about a day we had on a salmon river  in NZ.  It was one of those things where you read about a river and it says no one really fishes it for trout as it is known for salmon.  But it sort of gets you thinking that firstly is that because no one actually does bother fishing it for trout or is it the details you have in front of you like this to keep you for fishing for trout? We probably looked into this too deeply but when it comes to fishing I think you have to…anyway, over to you Dude…

 Pete and I were told by locals that the Rangitata “was more of a salmon river”.  When we arrived at the upper gorge section upriver of Peel Forest, it was easy to understand why:  it was a big, fast water interrupted by long, deep pools.  the water was brilliant torquoise, almost artificial in colour, because of the light reflecting off the volcanic silt collected from its headwaters.

The Dude

The Dude

 Unfortunately, the strong Northwesterly wind was blowing whitecaps in the pools and we quickly decided that we wouldn’t be able to turn over even our seven weight lines.  disappointed, we got back in the car and drove back downriver hoping to find more trout friendly water and shelter from the wind.

 We found what we were looking for, but unfortunately the section ran next to a campground that was fully booked with locals enjoying a long weekend.  We figured that the water got a good pounding but it was getting close to lunchtime and we hadn’t fished so we decided to put in.
Pete took the first pool and I took the second.  Three campers arrived shortly after us in their swim gear and positioned themselves between us.  I immediately became annoyed, but Pete later told me that the two women and one man nuded up and went swimming, so I forgave them and thought what a pleasant addition to any fishing day that would be (seeing the women, that is) provided it didn’t adversely affect the fishing.
We ended the day with two fish each, the largest around 5lbs.  Every day we fished the South Island I learned a thing or two, and here’s what I took away from our day on the Rangitata:      
    1)  Don’t dismiss a river that “was more of a salmon river” as not holding trout.  Pete and I chose the Rangitata deliberately to avoid other trout fishermen.  If you can fish the sections that the salmon fishermen avoid, you may find some trout that haven’t been fished to, even if they are next to a campground.
    2)  Fish lighter tippet than you think would be appropriate.  Although 5lb. tippet is standard for the size of fish we were catching, I fished 3lb. test for most of our trip.  The lighter tippet seemed to help with wary fish.  On big, open rivers like the Rangitata or the nearby Rakaia there aren’t many snags or other places for fish to pop you off.  My normal bias is to fish heavier than appropriate tippet to hasten the fight, but I found that quickly making my way to calm water as the fish tired was the best way to achieve a quick release. 
    3)  Always choose the first pool downriver of nude lady swimmers.