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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Posts Tagged ‘spey casting’

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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The Trout Slayer Returns!

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Richard from Hampshire, or Richard The Trout Slayer as I like to call him, made his first trip down to Devon to cast a fly at a few fish. As I have written in previous posts the season has been a little more testing than the previous few but I have, in a perverse sort of way, enjoyed it.

It has made me really have to think about fly selections and tactics to maximise success for my guests. I guess it might be an easy job when you suggest a cast to a likely spot and a fish takes, which is always nice, but I think a fly fishing guide earns his fee when he can pull a few fish out of the bag on a tough day. I know it isn’t all about numbers but when it’s tough it’s nice for an angler to see that it isn’t them that is doing something wrong,  the fish just sometimes aren’t on. I hope I can help in some small way to  put the odds in their favour a bit more.

The trout slayer!

Having said all this, Richard had plenty of fish and a number coming to the dry too. Generally we are still finding them in slacker, slower stretches of water and just about on the edges of the seams of faster water. It was really nice seeing Richard catching fish on flies he had learnt to tie over the winter and even on a spider pattern from a bird he had shot himself. Excellent work fella!

I met up with Chris who had received a gift voucher from his parents for Christmas. He had not held a fly rod before but took to it with amazing ease. We covered so much in the day and for the second time in the week a novice was double hauling by the end of the day. We also did plenty of fishing and used techniques for approaching a small still water which all worked really well. It was hugely exciting to see one of our rainbows hit a twitched hopper pattern.

First trout for Chris!

Julian has been fishing for a number of years and is an expert sea trout fisherman but wanted to learn to spey cast with a single handed rod. We were happy to help and he now has a number of tricks in his bag. It also gave me a chance to quiz him on a few approaches that he uses. One of the great things about fly fishing is that you never stop learning!

Julian nails another spey!

Josh wanted to catch a trout on a fly so we taught him to cast and he did the rest!

Josh and his first trout

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NZ, Klinks and Speys

Monday, January 18th, 2010

The great thing about fly fishing, for me anyway, is there are so many different aspects to it that make you keep coming back for more. There are so many variables that mean nothing is ever quite the same and there is always a new challenge awaiting either a day on the river or lake. I am sure you are the same. At the end of the day you walk away thinking about what has unfolded during the time on the water and thought “I wonder if I tie a smaller fly would it have worked better” or perhaps if I tweek my leader a bit I might have got a better turnover. It is these sorts of things that keep the discovery, or perhaps a better word is learning, process never ending.

On that front I was talking to a good friend who is off to NZ in a few days time. I sent him a few local patterns that I had including cicadas, willow grubs and some of Stu Tripneys excellent foam patterns. He asked what I had used most and it turned out it was a klinkhammer. Not because I always tie one one (in fairness it is pretty much at the top of the list) The really interesting part is that I didn’t tie it on due to force of habit. It was for a couple of reasons. Firstly having watched the fish they looked to be on emergers and secondly I thought “I wonder if they have seen this fly much?” I hadn’t read or heard much about them down there and it seemed to work pretty well for me. The other time this happened was in Colorado and it was a similar case. Is it a fly that hasn’t had a lot of exposure away from Europe? I’d be interested to know.

I went out yesterday for a practice and wanted to play with some spey casting. It was a bright morning and I fancied some music and a drive too, so I headed over to Kennick. Kennick is a 50 acre lake right in the middle of Dartmoor and is one of the prettiest places you could fish. It is well managed, has a great club and some nice guys who fish there. I don’t get to go there as often as I should but I always enjoy it. A few friends teach there and it isn’t a bad place to catch your first fish!

ken

Anyway, the lake was almost frozen over but I found a little section of  clear water and played for a bit. I loved it and pretty much had the place to myself .

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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!

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