Thursday, 22 February 2018

A touch of Italian flair....

Due to work commitments I often find myself away from home for several days at a time in hotels.  Where time tying a few flies in the room is very preferable to spending every night in the bar.  Also where fishing with holidays is combined a vice to take with me is a real bonus.  I am not a great tier but enjoy tying and not been able to tie flies on the spot frustrates me.

Anyway I have had a couple of so called travel vices the only thing I can say is that they were great for travelling but rubbish as vices .  Then some time ago I became aware of these.............

These fold up flat and the head assembly detaches as does the handle .  The engineering is very fine the hook hold is brilliant and it looks like a million dollars or perhaps i should say Euros ,Better still it is very transportable .  The tripod base in very stable and the hook hold very good .   So far its handled size 12 to 20 hooks with equal ease.  The vise is by Cottarelli lets hope that it doesnt rust like the Italian cars of my youth does...

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Half a century of fishing and books.

I recently had a bit of a sort out on the bookshelves I have a few hundred fishing titles mainly dated pre 1950 mixed with a few modern titles too. but pulling a few random titles got me reminiscing.  Mr Crabtree was without doubt the first proper fishing book I ever read.  The copy below was one I picked up years ago . Sad to say that the original one owned by my Dad long since disappeared.  To the modern reader of fishing books it must seem shockingly naive , but at the time to a young kid it was a wonderful book .  Fishing books at the time were a scarce commodity and to have one that could be picked up by a youngster and pored over was a real rarity .  Probably more than any other this one fired my imagination.  

I think the first fishing book I ever bought was the "northern anglers handbook " yes the one pictured below published in 1968 I bought it new and somewhat miraculously it has stuck with me through the last nearly 50 years.  I remember reading with fascination of the local fly fishing clubs with their astronomical fees or it seemed so at the time .  It gives me some considerable satisfaction that I am now a member of a few of them and chairman of one.  The period from then to now has seen some memorable days .  When I was 13 and at boarding school I was introduced to fly fishing and there was a copy of Trout and how to catch them in my local public library,  well it was there when I was on holiday then first day back at term it was mine again.  I remember with some fondness the frustration of trying to cast a fly line for the first time guided by the little stick man drawings inside it,  It was though a decent guide and a flick through it again confirms that yes pretty much everything you need to know on a "how to" basis is inside the covers.  
After boarding school came the big bad world of work.  Which for me was a training in a chartered surveyors office .  Salary was a pittance, my annual salary then was just a bit more than I charge per day now .   However despite my lack of funds and finding the fancy fly fishing clubs fees way out of my bracket the "Rough river and small stream book " opened my eyes and realised you could fly fish for coarse fish .  A pastime that filled the gap nicely till the commercial still water scene developed a bit in the late 70s and the 80s .  

Over the years my fishing has focused more and more on rivers I am fortunate in living within a few miles of some really first class fishing .  My love of books is bound up with that and so many of them can conjure up fond memories .

My passions for fishing literature is still there but modern books whilst gaining in sophistication and technical detail seem to have lost must of the real naive charm.  I was asked by someone at Christmas what fishing book could they buy their young son ( age 10 ) who was expressing an interest in fishing . After doing a bit of a web browse there was only one answer I could give .  I bought a Mr Crabtree of the internet and gave it to them for him .  I understand it was a big hit and its a regular read for him.  So that's another angler in the making I hope .  These days I enjoy my now extensive library with a real mix of old and new .  But am sure that none will ever inspire the same memories in me that the titles above do.  

The two below are a couple of my bookshelves .  Modern yes but at the time I read them they certainly made me think especially "In the ring of the rise".  Quite a rare thing these days a book offering genuine innovative thought on a pastime that to some extent has been done to death by many books which just seem to regurgitate a variation on the same theme.  When you read books like "The way of a trout with a fly" by Skues on the chalk streams and "The Practical Angler" by Stewart on our northern rivers you realise how they were pretty advanced for their time and are still remarkably modern in some ways .  Timeless classics a title that that very few modern titles will achieve. 

Sunday, 14 January 2018

A charity shop style day

Well thats me of the mark for 2018,  at long last the rain had stopped long enough for the rivers to settle a little and allow me a crack at some grayling.   I don’t much like fishing at this time of year , apart from the cold and the general gloom it is invariably fishing weighted nymphs for deep lying grayling .  A method which isn’t my favourite.  Now I know that a lunchtime rise is always a possibility, and there is a chance of a rising fish well the books say it works like that  .  Can’t say it often happened in January for me .

Anyway venturing forth the river looked in spanking form and it has at last cleared. Can’t say I was in spanking form . I was told by the one fellow member fishing when he saw me he said I was looking like a charity shop bundle that had gone fishing .  Harsh words coming from the Simms breathable clad figure .  I examined my attire working from the top down,  a imitation fur hat with yogi bear style ears cut a racy look .  My aging wading jacket which was struggling manfully to contain the multiple layers of pullovers atop my thermals .  All set of by my trusty ocean  pvc chest waders .  I gave up on neoprenes years ago , as on a couple of past occasions I came close to full cardiac arrest trying to get out of my previous pair.    The oceans are what you would call a comfy fit. With sufficient room around the rear to give a passable imitation of an elderly African elephant.  Anyway perhaps not the most stylish outfit but very practical.

As my  style critic strode of down the bank I entered the water in the only way that was proper . Sliding gracefully down the muddy bank on my arse .  A manoeuvre that is possible with indestructible PVC wrapped around you.The waters coldness hidden from my legs by the long socks , long johns , thermal suit and pvc .  The day was clear , crisp and the water at a good level. Apart from my style critic I shared the river with good numbers of dippers and one heron that flapped noisily away as I approached .  As for the fishing In the end my tally was two to hand and one released at distance and another couple scared . In the end a fine way to start the new year,  just not the most stylish.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Another season gone

"Hello my friend I cant resist having a word with you seeing what book your reading" Were the words I heard delivered with a rich welsh accent. I have just returned from a holiday on the canary islands , it was a real "the wife and I quality time and no fishing planned or expected type of trip" . It was a very nice sunny and relaxing ten days .  I took just one hardback book .  Sea Trout fishing by Harris and Morgan .  Together with my kindle loaded with a few general novels and a few Roderick Haig Brown titles .  Anyway I was laid by the pool with the sea trout book and heard the above words.  "Im sorry but I saw what you were reading and couldnt resist a chat".  Smashing Welsh guy who fishes the welsh rivers for Sewin as they call them.  Sat and chatted for an hour or more talking about how the rivers and our catches fared and about our shared worries regarding pollution and declining insect populations, during the holiday we then exchanged pleasantries whenever we bumped into each other. Afterwards it occurred to me how much of a common bond this fly fishing is,  Would a golf book or a football book have stimulated such a meeting ,  somehow I doubt it. Yet the old expression "a brother of the angle" really does seem to have some real meaning.

Cant believe another season has rushed by, there has been as usual a lot of small streams and some bigger streams to.  The Yorkshire Derwent has fished beautifully and has produced some stunning small brownies that on 6ft 3wts are great fun.  Its small stream with a little S ..

The trout above was living under  in the deep water under the big oak in the following,  must say if I was a trout I cant think of a better place to live .  I can confirm he was returned safely..

Anyway so back to the present. Here we are my fly fishing season number 47  finished,  these days I regularly meet fellow fly anglers out on the banks and discover that so many that are about my age or a little older often retired and newly taking up the gentle art.  Virtually all are envious when I say that I started fly fishing all them years ago. its hard to believe that I have fly fished for nearly 50 years .  I can still remember those first attempts and realising that what seemed so simple in the stick man illustration in the book was actually a bit more difficult.  Apart from the local undertaker who at some point later took pity on my feeble attempts and gave me lots of help my one source of knowledge was "Trout and how to catch them "  which the local library had , well it had it occasionally when i didnt have it,  a smashing little book and still a good read for newcomers.  I sought out a copy a few years ago,  reading it is a trip down memory lane.

The year started well in fulfilling my long held desire for a stalked bonefish on a single handed fly rod and on a self tied fly. It was a great memorable day, I had caught loads a few days before on a boat but it wasn’t wading and wasn’t stalking , certainly it didnt make the same impression on me. That and using a self tied fly.

Since then I have joined a migratory fish river association and started the year with a few nice sea trout and even netted a lovely 14lb salmon for my fishing companion ,  sadly on that day I was the bridesmaid and not the bride but was glad to be able to net the fish successfully, I hate netting fish for people especially someone’s first salmon in a inadequate net.  I know that should the worst have happened he would have been gracious about the loss but the shame oh the shame.

The first of my sea trout came on a spinner , yes yes I know you will say this traditional English fly angler chucking metal about .  Well guilty as charged the high water conditions meant it was a mepps that was first to give me success.  However as the season continued my taste for spinning diminished and for fishing the fly increased.  Not saying I wont used the spinner , I certainly will but will pursue any opportunity to use the fly rod even if I fear it reduces my chance of  fish.

An imitative fly ....

So this closed season will be tying up a range of absolutely deadly sea trout and salmon flies .  Well it will be my perception of what a deadly fly is and I must confess as the seasons pass and I gain more experience i realise is that I only ever seem to gain more awareness of all the stuff I don`t know.  Particularly with regard to fly patterns .  Sure there is the imitative theory  that says your fly should offer a perfect lifelike imitation of the insects on the water, but what I cant fathom is why should that fly which has just caught you have a dozen fish with the last one taking the fly with even more enthusiasm than the first do so for a fly that by then looks like a hook with snot stuck to it and some fluff out of your pocket squashed into it.  Beats the hell out of me .  I suppose thats one of the main attractions of it.  That glorious sense of the unknown

So for next season there will be no new clubs but there is a half formed idea of a trip or two with friends .  I am sure a new rod or reel will arrive soon.  Christmas would not be Christmas without some new fishing kit or a book or two.  As for the next few weeks up till the end of December It will be about an odd Grayling trip and starting to plan for the festivities and getting my fly tying done and boxes put together for next year .  Really could do with a new fly tying vice , not saying I really need one but really feel like I want one. Mind you I didnt  need the last two rods I bought or the last three reels but well you know how it is.

Finally dear reader I swear that if this is my last post of the year then next year I will do better...

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

So where in America should I pick

This year I have managed to scratch a couple of itches that have troubled me over the years. Not least wading the flats for bonefish , certainly those few days in Cuba were the highlight of the year.  But there a few real irritations that remain ....

Itch number one are brook trout, I have always been mesmerised by the sheer beauty of those and would love catch one , on a dry in a small stream would be best . 

Itch number 2 is the Arctic Grayling I love grayling fishing and they are becoming a severe irritation as I get older the Arctic species look bigger more fiesty and just so damn pretty.

Itch number 3 is a surprising one for me as in the UK we have rainbow trout here but they always seem like a pale imitation of the ones I see pictured in their native rivers. 

So blog readers if you are from that big place over the pond ( America / Canada ) is there a single destination I should consider where the above trio could be captured????


Becks and Brown trout