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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Posts Tagged ‘Pete Tyjas’

Fly Fishing in Devon has started!

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Sometimes it felt like it was never coming, but the season is upon us at last. I marked it with heading down to the hotel to meet up with a bunch of anglers looking to get the season started. Over coffee I sorted the beats and then everyone headed off in search of trout.

Nigel and some open day flies!

It had been a clear night and it was cool to start with, but as the day progressed fish were starting to be caught. There were a dozen anglers out on the water and it was nice to all meet up for lunch and then a post fish drink too. The really nice thing was that everyone caught fish and,, most importantly had a good time. Hatches weren’t heavy during the day as can often be the case this early on. We all saw a few large dark olives and some medium olives too.

Carol swings some spiders on a guided day

I have a casting demo coming up for a fishing club close to my heart. I have done it now for at least 6 years ( I think) but it is great to get people interested in casting and, of course, the important bit – the fishing. It has sort of evolved over this time and started as an out and out casting day with tips and advice but has sort of become a bit more than that. I try and cover fishing techniques and ways of getting the most out of our tackle, and also how to fish more effectively throughout the season. We are always trying to push things on to make it more interesting for those attending. I can’t wait as we have lots of things to show our guests!

Fly Fishing Devon

We’re under starters orders!

Monday, March 14th, 2011

So the 2011 trout season is almost upon us. I can’t work out if it feels like a long time since I fished the Taw or not, but one thing is for sure I’ll be fishing there tomorrow.

We’re having a bit of a get together to mark the season as we did last year and it will be great to meet faces old and new to mark the occassion. I was teaching this morning and walked one of the beats with a couple of hotel guests who will be joining us tomorrow. The river is low and clear and it was nice to see the odd large dark olive put in an appearance.

Jamie plays a fish!

I’m hoping the cloud that has come in will keep the temps higher than last night as we had a pretty heavy frost. It doesn’t matter though; I’m happy to be out and on the river again.

Casting tuition has been taking up time and it was great to meet Jamie last Friday. He is a self taught fisherman who had done a really good job with his casting too. We worked on just a few things that really seemed to help add a few feet to distance, along with good presentation.

Bob watches Steve make a spey cast

I have also been busy working on spey casting with single handed rods. It is often thought that the spey is just used for fishing big salmon rivers with double handed rods but this just isn’t the case and can be a great addition to the casting armoury. Steve was back again and we worked on a few spey casts that would be useful for his river trout fishing.

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Fly Fishing Devon

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

It amazes me sometimes how we go about things in a complicated manner when we are  trying to convey a simple point. Fly casting can sometimes be like this and making things uncomplicated and easy to understand allows the learning process to be an easy one.

I have been doing a fair bit of casting tuition over the last few weeks and a phrase I seem to be using a lot is “the line follows the rod tip” it sounds obvious but if you can get a student to grasp that from an early stage it really does help and make a difference. By just demonstrating a forward cast and showing an exaggerated low stop with the rod tip right at the water conveys a lot especially when the line hits the water like a bag of spanners. You can do the same with a back cast too. You use excessive wrist break and the line follows that rod on a downward path into the grass.

Richard gets to grips with single handed speys

I was also teaching an advanced angler the other day who is going to be fishing one of my favourite rivers upcountry and wanted some help with learning some slack line casts. Again, using the same phrase of line following the rod tip he was soon making wiggle casts with ease and putting mends into his cast whereever he wanted. We had great fun coming up with combinations for the ultimate drag free drift.

The drag free drift maestro!

I know there are lots of other elements involved to make a good cast, but this was one that seemed to crop up a lot of late and worked really well with the learning process. I’m from the school of keep it simple!

The trout season is almost upon us and the wind has shifted from the chilly North Easterly we have had of late. It is still blowing a bit but I’m just in from some gentle pruning and making sure access points are all looking good for the off….can’t wait!

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Fly Fishing in Devon 2011 and a bit of 1953

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Life is full of little twists and turns and sometimes a series of events all seem to drop into place perfectly into a perfectly formed, completed jigsaw.

Something like this has happened over the last few days to me. I was at the hotel talking to some early season salmon anglers who turned out to live just where my parents do. No big coincidence there but next day I was at the hotel ahead of pruning some of the banks when Nick the hotel owner showed me a copy of a book they had left behind for him to read. It turns out that one of them had “liberated” it from a hotel he was staying in while on a trip to San Francisco.

The book, called Where to Fish, is a 1953 edition and just inside is an advert for the hotel where we are based: the Fox and Hounds. It even says that it was possible to get a train from Waterloo Station in London direct to Eggesford. This probably doesn’t either sound much or mean a great deal either but Eggesford Station is now just a little provincial station where a 2 carriage train stops once an hour.

So this is a nice little start to things. Next though,yesterday Emma and I decided to take the train from Eggesford to Barnstaple instead of making the drive in. It is a great journey for the fly angler as the train follows the Taw all the way. I think it was a little embarrassing for Emma as I jumped from side to side of the carriage as the river turns and twists its way to the sea. It was great to see the water I work on from a different perspective and further down the river I even saw a couple of anglers out on the water.

We did a little wander around Barnstaple and decided to head back. We quickly darted into WH Smith as I like to keep up to date with the fishing magazines and as we walked out of the door I saw a little section of local books. The cover of one had a guy fishing on the cover so I called back Emma and popped back in.

I flipped open the cover and saw that it was a collection of essays regarding fishing trips a gentleman had made over his fishing career. The one that caught my eye was 20 odd pages about fishing the  Taw at the Fox and Hounds. At  over 200 pages and in hardback the £2.99 seemed pretty fair and made it even cheaper than all the magazines, so I bought it.

When we got home I sat down with a cup of tea and opened the book at the Fox and Hounds chapter. The next spooky bit was the the writer first visited the hotel in 1953, the same year as the book I picked up the other day.

I have to be honest and say when I bought the book I was guessing it was going to be one of those “it wasn’t like that in my day” sort of affairs, but it wasn’t. It probably won’t mean much to most people but I read the chapter intently as it describes the fishing down all of the beats. It was so nice reading about pools that I have come to know so well and see how the writer used to fish them. I even picked up a tip on how he used to fish one of them!

I don’t think I would have noticed this book unless it was placed right by the door as I hardly ever go in the book section at Smiths.

The writer, Peter Harvey, was born in 1921 but the book was published in 2006 so I have contacted the publisher to see if they can try and put me in touch with him (if he’s still alive as he’d be 90 now) as I would really love to talk to him about the times he used to fish on the water so my fingers are crossed that he gets my message. I’ll keep you posted.

The book has some other sections about his fishing experiences so I’ll have a read of those too. It probably won’t mean a lot to a lot of people but just in case it does here are the details.

So, there are just 11 days til the trout season starts…getting excited?

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Fly Fishing with Friends

Monday, February 21st, 2011

One of the great things about fly fishing is the friends I have been lucky enough to make. There is nothing nicer than getting a call from a pal telling you the fishing is hot on their river or lake and would I like to join them to have a go? It is, of course, reciprocal and I get as much pleasure calling friends and saying they have to drop everything as the river is on fire.

We were lucky enough to venture up to Yorkshire this weekend to see some good friends and to take a look around and see the river they fish.

I know I have said it before but it still amazes me how small our country actually is. We set off at around 9am and were sitting in a cafe in York at 2ish having also made a stop for a cup of tea elsewhere.

On Saturday morning we got up and I mentioned to Emma that it looked a little foggy. After blinking a few times and taking a closer look ( I am a bit slow first thing) it turned out to be snow. We sort of knew it was coming and there was a nice scattering on the grass, but thankfully it wasn’t really cold enough to settle on the roads.

We’d come a long way and I really wanted to see the river I’d heard so much about and, as the roads were clear, we headed off.

It turned out it was everything I had hoped it would be and so much more. A beautiful setting, with water to match.We weren’t on a fishing day, I just wanted to see a place I had heard so much about. That having been said, I did have a cast of my new Access rod for 20 mins or so just to see and it worked perfectly.

I am pretty sure we’ll be back during the trout season, but in the meantime when we get the report of how well that river is fishing it will be nice to know that I’ll have a really good idea of exactly the spot being described. You know, the sort of thing about the riffle just below the path…

I had a great picture taken of me fishing in the snow, but just can’t seem to get it to load right  now…enjoy Charlies painting of a trout instead!

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Fly Fish Devon

Monday, January 31st, 2011

If you read our little blog you’ll know that I have been tying like a mad man and am really starting to build up a nice stock of flies. I really want to be in a position that, come opening day, everything is set for the coming season and we have plenty of flies to show the fish.

I have also been reviewing how I carry all my flies and over the last couple of years have gone back to a fly fishing vest. It has been more necessity than any thing else as I tend to carry flies for river trout, sea trout and salmon just so that all the bases are covered and I know when I pick it up I won’t have forgotten anything. Previous to this though, for guiding on the river, I used a lanyard which carried everything I needed. I think sometimes guests were a little embarrassed as they turned up with more flies and gear than the guide, but when they see the Mothership fly box that resides in the back of my truck they feel a little more comfortable!

This year though, I am going back to the light approach and have bought an Orvis sling pack. Please don’t get this confused with sling backs which Emma tells me are a popular style of ladies shoe. No, this just fits over the shoulder and carries all you need for a day on the water. I have to say I am really pleased with it and can’t wait to try it out. The vest will be for the migratory fish so I think I am pretty well prepared.

It was good to meet up with Dave From Portland last week and see him catch his very first grayling. It is great to be there at moments like these, although he did have to work for them as it was freezing cold and the fish were glued to the bottom, but big, pink bugs did the business as ever!

DFP brings in a grayling

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Fly Fishing Devon

Monday, January 24th, 2011

I’ve been tying a few flies over the last few days. I’ve been getting ready for the hatches as they happen throughout the year. I have tied some darker parachute flies in a few sizes to cover Large Dark Olives and March Browns. I have also tied a few patterns  to cover the first of our caddis hatches, the Grannom. I don’t know if they will work or not but it will be fun seeing if they do. I tied a few last year and they seemed to work OK and I have gone for a few variations on this theme. To me, the fish seem more interested in the emergent Grannom rather than the adult sitting on the water so I have tied some that will sit in or just below the surface film.

The new flies mean I have had to do one of my favourite things – tidying the fly boxes. As a guide I don’t actually carry loads of flies when I am working. I have a box that carries all the dries and then one that carries subsurface patterns from spiders to bead nymphs and just about everything inbetween. I then keep a sort of Mothership fly box in my truck that I can replenish supplies with should I need them. I plan on travelling a little lighter this year and have made a few purchases that I’ll write about a bit later.

Pete and his first trout

It has been good seeing guests this early in the year for casting sessions, including some newcomers too. I have been watching the temperatures pretty closely as there have been times when the lake has been frozen, but other times when the fish have been going mad on the small windows where a hatch takes place. I bought a new rod last week and wanted to try it out but when we got there the lake was frozen. Nightmare…..perhaps tomorrow……

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A great time of year

Monday, January 17th, 2011

January can be a great time of year as lots of new things hit the tackle shops ready for the new season. There is nothing more exciting (well almost!) than heading down to the river or lake with a new purchase and put it to work on the fish. We were lucky enough to pop up to the Orvis HQ in November and caught a glimpse of what will be new for this season. I had to be restrained as there are a few new things I could be stocking up on!

Flies are a tough one though. Companies must constantly be trying to bring something new to the market which is a must-have pattern for the fly box; something that will work when nothing else ever has. Perhaps it isn’t as extreme as that and  is probably more that we are being offered an alternative and it is always fun trying the new flies.

This is the great thing about fly fishing. There are so many alternatives which we can explore when it comes to flies especially if we tie our own. Hands in the air if you always tie a perfect dozen which conform to the design of the first one? I can’t hold my hand up as I just have to tinker a bit. For me, winter time is  when I tie the ever faithful flies that serve me so well. It’s also a great time to tweak some, or think about fishing situations I faced and how to overcome some of them. Just getting the fly to sit or fish differently in the water might just make that subtle difference. I  love doing this and get a thrill when the new fly I was working on actually fools the fish!

January is also a time for resoloutions and Peter’s was to learn to fly fish. We were only too happy to help him on his way. Watching a newcomer make their first roll cast can tell you a lot about how they are thinking of using the rod and it became apparent that Peter had got it. As the weather had been miserable we had talked through safety and how the tackle works in the hotel over a few cups of tea. It is a great way to start the day.

Peter and his first trout!

Peter did just fine and caught a few fish taking one home for his tea. It was brilliant to see him get as much pleasure making a nice cast as he did from catching fish. Well done Peter!

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Life is just too short….

Friday, January 7th, 2011

2011 has got off to a good start despite a small hiccup. The hiccup I am writing about was quite an interesting one. Basically we had our website “copied”. I don’t say copied in the loosest sense but pretty much an out and out rip off. Emma was amazed at how relaxed I was about the whole thing when the site was shown to me.

I am sure this sort of thing goes on in business all the time and it can often be hard to tell if something has been either lifted, copied or down right ripped off. It might be a line here or there or just something really subtle. Sadly this wasn’t the case. Great chunks of text that I had written had just been copied and pasted in exactly the same font and where there needed to be changes because of the different river names they hadn’t even bothered to match the font but had simply written it in a different one. It didn’t look great.

The office....

I got some advice  about it but in the end the best thing was to speak to the guy. So I did just that.

It turned out that he had the site built for him by a third party and knew nothing about what had happened. He wasn’t to know and is probably like me in that I only really look at a couple of  my buddies’ sites as I like to see their fishing exploits. ( Jim, I wish I had managed to get out over Christmas like you dude!)

He took it down and no harm was done. It turns out he works on a bit of water I have always wanted to try so we talked about going to have a fish on it. I hope we do!

As I advance in years I have come to realise that life is just too short to hold grudges and it is much better to shake a hand or two along the way and leave as friends. It is even better when you leave with a fishing friend.

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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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