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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Posts Tagged ‘Westcountry fly fishing guide’

A day with MFD

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

As much as I love the Taw I do love to jump in the truck and and guide on some other water that I know well. On Tuesday it was with Mike (AKA MFD) He is great company to be with both on the river and in the truck too.

He has a skill I would love. Actually, two skills I would love to have. The first is the ability to come back with a witty reposte. I am the sort of person who thinks I wish I had said that only when the smart reply I could have said pops into my head two days later. Mike just rolls them out with the added glint in the eye and I never tire of hearing his car ordering story. He is a regularly on the F & H water so make sure you ask him.

The second is more fishing related, actually it is fly tying related. The guy ties some seriously nice flies. I’m not saying this to be polite, he really does. They are beautifully tied and in perfect proportions. I always like to try and use my guests’ flies as there is nothing nicer than catching a fish on a fly you have tied yourself. I do have to confess though that 3 of MFD’s flies ended up on my fly patch. I know you’ll be reading Mike, so I promise I’ll get them back to you once they have caught a few more fish!

After a breakfast stop of a sausage sandwich, the food of any serious sportsman, we hit the river. I know Mike likes to fish a dry but it was a little cool and no signs of anything hatching so I tied on something a little bigger and juicier to make it worthwhile for the fish.

The morning was a great one with plenty of fish and a quick pub lunch. The afternoon we fished somewhere different and although the fishing wasn’t as hot Mike had some nice fish, both grayling and trout, before we headed for the drive back and some excellent banter.

I was working next day on the Taw so we stopped by Eggesford Bridge so I could check the water and look for salmon. Speaking of salmon, I’ll be telling you about my very near miss. I think I can just about speak about it now!

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Lessons from Fly Fishing Part 2

Friday, July 8th, 2011

I am just back from 4 days of guiding Pam and Alan on a Dorset chalkstream. I sort of know the water from a trip in the distant past when I fished it with my good friend Ray (The Dude) a few years back.

I really like these trips on waters I am not so familiar with as it test me as a guide and fishing chalkstreams also allows me to work on the fish spotting skills which I thoroughly enjoy. It is good for a guide to do this every now and again as it gets you thinking a little more and lets you work on honing your skills on a water you might not know so well.

"nice cast Alan, this could be the one"

It can sometiimes be easy to tie on the old faithfuls that work at home but they might not do the business on a different water. I am a firm believer that a guide doesn’t have supernatural skills as to when fish are biting but they simply read and analyse the conditions and fish the water and make fly selections accordingly. Guiding is about showing your guests why you are changing your flies or why you are changing the setup a bit, not gazing into the distance and muttering something about a special feeling or saying that your big toe is throbbing and the fish are coming on the feed…well, thats my view!

Pam does the business

I want my guests to be able to see why conditions have changed and then if they are fishing alone they have a really good idea of some things that might work to tip the scales in their balance.

Another fish for Alan

Anyway, the trip was a great one and Pam and Alan, as always,  fished beautifully and caught plenty of fish.  We had a mixture of bright sunshine followed by rain on the last day but it was great fun!

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Friday, April 15th, 2011

Last weekend was my birthday. It is the sort of occassion that I get as excited about as I used to but I think this one was one of the best. Getting up early to a beautiful sunny morning I opened some great presents from Emma and Charlie and then sat down to a magnificent breakfast and some chill out time in the garden. We had some birthday cake for lunch and Emma suggested I hit the river to catch a few birthday trout. It sounded like a great idea and so I did just that.

The Taw

The river, although low, was looking good and I knew that grannom had been coming off just around lunchtime so I knew I was on the water at the right time.

Perfect timing!

I rigged up some bamboo and headed down stream to a favourite pool. It is really nice when you get there and the fish are just starting to rise.

A vintage Bannister rod

Judging by the rises they were at the early stage of the hatch and were taking the emerging pupa. I tied on one of my easy-tie balloon caddis and a really simple grannom pupa. I stuffed the first take but managed to get a few more out of the pool.

A Taw trout

I fished for a few hours and caught a few and had what was just about the perfect birthday!

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River Taw fly fishing

Friday, April 8th, 2011

It is always nice to get to fish or guide on a new water. I was down on the south side of the Moor to meet up with David who has over 1 1/2 miles of some really nice water and wanted to see how we would approach and fish it for migratory fish. It was a really nice piece of water with a mixture of deep, shaded, slow pools that looked the ideal spot for sea trout and some classic salmon pools too. David covered it and fished it really well. It was one of those bits of water that, despite the water being low, you are always in with a chance.

David fished his stretch of water!

Yesterday I hit a new piece of chalkstream. Small, overgrown, low, clear and intimate. The sort of water where you have to spot the fish and creep up on them. We fished light with a one weight and worked hard on the stealth stuff. You know what? It worked pretty well. Despite the fish up there not having fully woken up we looked for the shallower water where fish were lying and offered them a CDC emerger. The only downside of this simple, but hugely deadly fly is that once they have had a fish you need to nip them off and tie on another. I had at least three of them being rotated on my fly patch during the day.

The grannom have really been flooding off of the Taw and the fish have been on them. We have a new section of water for our fishing school which is about 1 1/2 miles long. It is lower down the Taw and has some nice salmon pools and spots for sea trout along with brown trout. I have walked it a few times now and reckon it is longer than that as the river twists and turns but there is a great amount of water for our guests to fish, be it migratory or non migratory fishing they are after. This is along with all the great water that the hotel has so I reckon we have nearly 8 miles of private water to show anglers now.

I was guiding further down the Taw with Richard the other day. He has a cottage right by the river and wanted to learn how to fish the water for salmon. I was happy to help and showed him the pools and how best to approach them and how to fish them under differing water levels. It was one of the first bright, sunny days but we had a good go and it was nice walking back to Richard’s cottage for a pizza and sit in the garden before hitting the river again. Things weren’t to be but I’d mentioned that on the bright days it is worth heading down early to the river. I had done this a bit last year and it is really nice being there as the sun comes up. Anyway, Richard did just this and I had a call early the next day saying that he had landed his first salmon. He thinks it was a really well mended kelt but it is a great start to the second day of his salmon fishing career. My advice to him when I left him was to listen to everything anyone tells him about salmon fishing but don’t be afraid to do something from the left field. That is what he did and it turned out well for him. Well done Richard!

Richard swings a cascade

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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 websites, mags and bamboo

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Apparently the server for the site got hacked into. Sounds exciting, perhaps agents are trying to get the details of how to tie the scruffy klink…

I suspect it is more a case of someone trying to load spam selling products to enhance prowess in the sporting, or more likely, some other arena.  All the excitement! I probably shouldn’t say that as I know the web guys have not enjoyed the ride too much, reminded me of a great film that was out a few years ago called Sneakers that deals with hacking and espionage. It looks like I am going off on a wierd direction again but even this has a link with fly fishing as it stars Robert Redford and we all know his link with fly fishing. Sneakers was actually the next film he made after that fishing one.

I met up with my pal Luke the other day. He builds excellent bamboo rods and has come up with the taper of all tapers for his latest creation. It is a fast one that sort of feels familiar to a graphite rod but still has that bamboo feel to it. You could say it is the best of both worlds and I think that is just about right.  I have either the first or second of these rods and it has the ability to pick up and laydown the shortest of lines but will also throw a long one with needle pointed loops if that is your thing too. It fishes fantastically and works perfectly as a rod for someone who has grown up with graphite but would like to try bamboo. 

A lot of people think you have to buy an old rod to try bamboo but it is great to hear that there is an army of builders making brand new rods on well tested and trusted tapers of yesteryear. Luke also does this and I have one of those too but I do have to admit I am a avid fan of all things bamboo!


I was trying his latest prototype and was honoured to be asked.  To see Lukes wares take a look here.

The fly fishing magazine hunt goes on and I find myself popping into newsagents just to see how many fly fishing magazines they have on offer. Carrying on from the last blog I went to Exeter Station and there were none but I was really pleased to see a healthy selection in WH Smiths in Exeter the other day. They even had an American one which I ended up buying. It is always nice to get a different perspective.