Thursday, 20 March 2014

Season's Opener

It happens every year! I sit at home patiently waiting for the start of the trout season here in Yorkshire on 25th March, doing all the last minute jobs in readiness for the new season. Then reports filter in from friends in the Lancashire and Cumbria where the season has already started on 15th March. Photos appear on Twitter and blogs get uploaded, all showing and describing the first trout of the season and hatches of Large Dark Olives (LDO’s) and March Browns. I take it for so long, hiding my jealousy and resisting the temptation to venture out before the ‘real’ season starts on 25th. Some years I make it all the way to the 25th, helped if the weather is particularly bad, but more and more nowadays I don’t! This year I didn’t. I can only take so many photos of newly hatched LDO’s and the first of the season's trout, so today I gave in, despite winds gusting to 40mph…

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Flies of 2013: Jig Nymphs

Jig Nymphs
Jig Nymphs
With the 2014 trout season here in  the Yorkshire Dales almost upon us, it's time to bring this little series of posts to a close. I hope you've enjoyed them and that some of the patterns have inspired you to tie and try them. They are all superb performers that you can fish with confidence, none more so that this last pattern...

About 2 to 3 years ago I felt there was room in the range of river nymphs I carry for something a little more dense. All my nymphs were relatively lightweight and there were times when I felt I could do with more ballast to get down in strong flows and/or deep water. I carry heavy enough Czech Nymphs and nymphs for fishing in the fixed Czech style, but I felt I needed a heavy nymph more suited to upstream nymphing and French style nymphing. My choice at the time was Baetis Nymphs, Gold Head (brass) Pheasant Tail Nymphs, small Mary Copperheads and a few miscellaneous small tungsten bead flies. The Mary Copperhead was my first choice for faster flows and deeper water with it being quite dense, but if I needed more weight I would have to use a Czech Nymph or my Copperhead Nymph and so I felt I needed to bridge the gap...

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Flies of 2013: CDC Sedge

CDC Sedges
The title "Flies of 2013" is perhaps a little inaccurate for the CDC Sedge because it has been a top performing fly for me since 2010 when I first became aware of its powers of attraction. I actually got hold of this fly in 2009, but it sat dormant in my fly box for 12 months with me not realising its potential...

Monday, 10 March 2014

Flies of 2013: Daddy Longlegs

Daddy Longlegs
It would be fair to say that most anglers have used a Daddy imitation at some time or other for rainbow trout. It is the first fly I can remember catching on when I first learnt to fly-fish on one of Simon Gawesworth's famous flyfishing courses in deepest, darkest, Devon. I'll never forget watching my Daddy disappearing in a big swirl as a large rainbow swallowed it at Exe Valley Lakes as Simon looked on. Simon has of course since moved on to much greater things: author of some superb casting books, star of casting DVD's and now lives in the US and works for Rio Products. He is regarded as possibly the greatest Spey caster in the world and he was a brilliant teacher. His courses were superb, are missed by many and I feel honoured to have met him and been taught by him. Anyway, I digress, back to the Daddy Longlegs...

Monday, 3 March 2014

Flies of 2013: Norski Lad

The Norski Lad first came to my knowledge in 2012 when reading a series of articles in FF & FT magazine about fishing in Shetland. A full article was devoted to the Norski Lad, including how it came to be, how to dress it, fish it and some information about its inventor. I found it a slightly surprising fly to look at, not really like anything I'd seen used before for brown trout in lochs; it was more of rainbow trout competition fly in my eyes. The article sang its praises so much that I had a few tied for me and put them in my fly box ready for Shetland. I don't remember using it anywhere until an overnight wild camping trip to Cow Green Reservoir at the very end of May...

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Flies of 2013: Hutch's Pennell

The Black Pennell is one of THE best known traditional wet flies. I have used it for years when stillwater fishing for brown trout and rainbows, and it is still one of my first choice flies for wild brown trout in lakes and lochs. I had heard of one or two Black Pennell variations, but to be fair there isn't much you can do improve its simple design and effectiveness. It was again whilst researching patterns for my Shetland trip that Hutch's Pennell came to my attention. I had never heard of it until then but now feel slightly embarrassed at that admission because it does seem reasonably well known. As with my previous two posts about the Kate McLaren Muddler (KMM) and Black Diawl Bach (BDB), it was while out early season fishing on Ullswater when my quickly filling up Shetland wet fly box served up the Hutch's Pennell in answer to the Buzzers that were hatching in good numbers. As I wrote in the first of these posts, it just stood out from the myriad of other patterns in my box and couldn't be ignored; that's how I choose my wet flies, or to put it better - I let them choose themselves...

Monday, 24 February 2014

Flies of 2013: Black Diawl Bach

Black Diawl Bachs
In my first post about my best performing flies of 2013 I promised you there would be no groundbreaking flies and there are none more so than the Black Diawl Bach. There can’t be many, if any, stillwater anglers who haven’t fished a Diawl Bach for rainbow trout, though I do think there would be a large proportion of anglers who wouldn’t consider them for wild brown trout. I have been a firm fan of the Diawl Bach for years, it is one of my go-to flies whenever and wherever I cast a line upon a lake. However, many of you may be surprised to hear that until last year I had never tried the black version. It wasn’t a fly that I was very aware of if I’m honest (I blame my bias towards river flyfishing), but my reading and research for Shetland made it obvious that I couldn’t travel without a few in my box…

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Flies of 2013: Kate McLaren Muddler

Bushy Bob Flies
Having just experienced one of the wettest winters on record, and we’re not out of it yet, I haven’t had a single day’s grayling fishing all winter. I have kept very busy though, despite the lack of guiding and fishing. I’ve had all the usual admin jobs to do at home and I’m pleased to report that I have finally rekindled the flytying bug again after a few years in the doldrums, however, finding the time is another thing!

Anyway, as we approach the new season very rapidly, I thought it about time I got back to writing something for the blog - not easy when you aren’t fishing. So I thought I would put together a few short blog posts about some of my most successful flies of 2013, in the hope that you might just tie one or two on your leader this coming season. Please don’t expect anything groundbreaking, or the latest must-have fly gleaned from one of my fishing contacts up and down the country. Those that know me and the way I fish will know that my theory on flies is that it is not about having THE right fly, it’s about presenting an acceptable fly properly. If a fish sees a fly that shouts food because it looks right and is behaving in a way that a food item would do (e.g. fish swimming, drowned insect motionless in the film, newly hatched fly skating across the surface, nymph ascending towards the surface, etc.) why wouldn’t it try to eat it? For more on this theory you should read Bob Wyatt’s brilliant book “What Trout Want”. All the flies that will appear here are all well known, tried and tested patterns, that just look right (in my eyes) and do a job; no frills, just plain, old, simple flies that catch fish and always will do...