Gift vouchers are now available for Tuition & Guiding

Testimonial Picture 1
Testimonial Picture 2
Testimonial Picture 3

Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Posts Tagged ‘Trout Fishing in Devon’

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.

P2070199   Fly Fishing tuition and guiding in Devon

Fly Fishing Lessons

Monday, July 6th, 2009

I had some ladies pop down for some fly fishing lessons the other day. They wanted to learn how to cast and how to fish. It has got me thinking about all this stuff about ladies and fishing. I’m not one of those who believes in pheromones but just simply that ladies are more laid back and if a fish comes by and takes then that is good news but no worries if it doesn’t. I might be wrong and the scents a lady gives off might cause a fish to bite but would it cause both female and male fish to act the same?

When it comes to casting the more relaxed approach certainly works as the whole casting process gets screwed up if we have an iron like grip on the rod. The other good thing is that ladies don’t have the same strength as us fellas and so quickly realise that the rod is a pretty good tool for sending our fly out to the fish than sheer muscle!


It was great seeing everyone throwing a nice loop and also understanding what a nice loop was and what you needed to do to get one. We always maintain that if you know what is happening and why, then you can always understand what has happened when the cast hasn’t gone to plan. Most of all though it is about having some fun and I think the ladies had that!

Other blogs about Fly Fishing Lessons

Devon Fly Fishing Guide

Saturday, June 13th, 2009

As a fly fishing guide I do enjoy the challenge of sussing the fish out when conditions aren’t as perfect as we would all like them. I was lucky enough to have Pam and Alan down here for a week and having left perfect conditions in Hampshire we were greeted with something a little less friendly in Devon.

The river on Sunday was unfishable but was coming down fast and although had a tinge of colour was safe to wade and looked like it would just get better. The morning was pretty slow with a few half hearted plucks but after lunch things hotted up and a few mayflies got the fish interested. As the water still had a push to it we worked slacker, slower areas and any indents in the bank. We decided to make it worthwhile for the fish to take a look so fished size 1o stimulators. This might seem a little extreme but there have been some pretty big ones coming off this year. The nice thing was that the plan worked and we had some nice fish to 13 inches.

Later in the week Alan hooked an landed a 14 incher matching our best for the season. We had a great week with plenty of fish and it was a real pleasure to guide them both and to have such a good time!


Always something new…

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

The great thing about fly fishing and I guess life in general is that you are always learning. I think that is why I like it so much. Yesterday I learnt something new, it was a new word. I had Dave over from Portland for the day and although he only had a couple he happened to mention that he had got a “taffle” I’d never heard this before but think it is a nicer word than a tangle. Although I don’t know if this is just a Portland thing or not I like it.

Just before I met Dave yesterday I popped in to the hotel for my pre fish cup of coffee. I’m not much of a coffee drinker but I love the brand the hotel uses. John, who I had earlier in the week, reckons it is real rocket fuel and a perfect kick start for a days fishing.

The weather was similar to what we had for most of the week, overcast and a bit murky. I thought we might be in for more of the same that we had exeperienced earlier in the week but as Dave pulled up the sun broke through and we walked down to the river in bright sunshine. It turned out that the mayfly were a little later and we had to cover some water to find fish that were rising but we got there and Dave managed our second best fish or the season (13 inches) on a great big may pattern. We had to swap patterns around a fair bit and sometimes the fish would like a more yellow pattern or sometimes a more subtle colouring but he did a great job.

I am so pleased that anglers are catching fish. Our catch board in the hotel is now only a handful of fish away from the entire total of last season already so I guess we must be doing something right.

I’m up on the chalkstreams next week with 2 guests for the week and am really looking forward to it. I stocked up on mayflies at Howard’s last week but didn’t think I’d have used so many down here so I’ll be back again today for more!

Dave into a good one!

Dave into a good one!

Fly fishing in Devon

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Well, we’ve had some serious rain at last and I am pleased to say that I have seen a number of salmon moving into our beats. I was on the water with a guest and although the water was against us we counted 7 salmon showing in one pool. I guess the sea trout will be doing the same so watch this space!

It was good to meet up with friends old and new at the Devon County Show today and I have another couple of days to go. I really enjoy it and sounds like we have some good weather for the final couple of days.

Richard the trout slayer came back for another day yesterday and despite feeling a little under the weather he fished his whatsits off again and had a number of fish. We had to head high to find some fishable water so I decided on showing him Dartmoor. We covered some ground and fished short with small dries. The fish liked a black version of a scruffy klink in a size 20 and we had to throw the winning fly away as it had been chewed beyond repair.

It was really nice showing him a new spot and he also has developed a love affair with fishing “pocket water” I think we’d both like to have seen the size of the fish that broke him but sometimes its things like that which keep you coming back for more!


Not fly fishing in Devon…..

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

A good friend has a stretch of water that he has asked if I would like to fish with him. He has very kindly asked me for about 3 years and with the workload it has been a little tricky. I got close last year but this year when he asked I had one clear day and jumbled  tuition around so that I could spend two days.

I have promised to not give any details away and I will remain good to my word, all I will say is that I was not fly fishing in Devon!

I got there late on Wednesday night as I had been guiding Paul on the river and talked with my host for a bit and then went to bed. I don’t know if you are the same but the prospect of fishing a new water leaves me little time to sleep and I was awake at 5.30am and ready to go. I poked my head out of the window and saw that it was raining. Not heavy but it looked pretty set and looked like it was going to be a permanent fixture for the day. Needless to say my host wasn’t up and had been there for almost a week and had settled in to that nice relaxed camp routine and the last thing he’d want is an excited newcomer dragging him out to go fishing!

I decided to get my gear ready and had a brand new Scott S4 to try. It is an 8 1/2 ft 4wt and putting my obvious bias to Scott aside I have to say that I have a new best buddy. The rod has even knocked my beloved G2‘s into second place…it is a really, really nice fishing rod.

After some toast and coffee we headed down to the bottom of the river. My host graciously had left this section so that I was hitting it fresh. After a quick limber up I made the first few casts. As there were some slightly deeper pockets I wanted to cover both bases and so had a scruffy klink with a flashback pheasant tail nymph tied to the bend of the hook NZ style. We quickly saw a rise to my right and my first cast was a little short. I had feared that I had spooked the fish but cast again. This time I was on the money and a fish rose to my dry. I could feel this was a good fish and seeing it run upstream and against the current told me this was the case. I eventually got it under control and my host netted a fish. This was a monster. My new rod comes with markers on it for 12inches and 20 inches.I haven’t paid a lot of attention to the 20 inch marker until then. The fish was just a couple of millimeters below it…I couldn’t believe it!


My host had to pop into town so left me alone to fish. I worked up the next pool and saw a fish move. I covered him a couple of times but nothing. Third cast and the dry dipped. I struck and couldn’t believe it as it felt as though it was another hefty fish. I netted the brown trout and remember saying out loud “This is unbelievable”  This time it was an 18 incher!


I had to sit down for a bit and reflect, I had beaten my best ever UK wild trout and got close to it with my next fish.

The river also has some grayling too and I picked up a nine incher. I carried on and the rain had got a little heavier. As a whole we had been working the tails of pools and slower, slacker areas. I worked my way up a pool and the head reminded me of an area I have had a lot of success with when guiding on the Taw. I threw a couple of casts in and nothing. I thought I’d make one more and I was glad I did. The dry dipped again and another fish was on. In the words of John Wilson it was a clonker. I caught sight of the fish and knew it was another biggie. My host was watching and came up the pool and netted the fish. I measured it and it was even bigger than my first at 20 1/2 inches!


After releasing the fish and high fiving my host he headed down to the pool he was fishing, I threw in the hole again but thought that would be it. First cast the dry dipped again and I was in again and it was another nice fish! My host couldn’t believe it and neither could I. This one was 14 inches but again screamed right upstream when hooked. It really reminded me of both New Zealand fishing and New Zealand Fish. I was also really lucky to get a 16 incher and the amazing thing is that these are all wild fish, nothing stocked and we didn’t luck them when salmon fish, we were trout fishing.

I only fished for a few hours the second day but I netted a 14 inch grayling for my host and I hooked a couple of small ones just to prove they were there. It was just one of those days when the fishing gods smiled on me and one I won’t forget in a hurry but it was great fishing with good friends in a stunning setting.

I have promised not to mention where I was and I will remain good to my word, I’ll just call it mystery river X for now.