Thursday, 15 April 2021

Things are looking up...

 So here we are then nearly a quarter through 2021 , a year that has a bit of a George Orwell feel to it what with Covid , Social distancing, mass inoculation on top of all the usual troubles and  rumblings that go on in society .  Brexit which was forecast to be either nirvana and the road to the promised land or a slippery slope to hell. Has as to be expected has turned out to be like bad tempered divorce with both sides claiming the better deal.  But really has passed almost seeming inconsequential compared to the Covid impact..  For the Americans that read this blog and I know there are a good few of you ,  Brexit ( or our leaving the EU )  is turning out to be a bit like that time when you have to go to your annoying neighbour and ask for your lawn mower back , and the ladders , the socket set and then say I have no problem lending them to you again but we need a whole raft of rules in place which actually make the whole process almost not worth the bother.   You are quite happy to live next to your neighbour but am also happy to see a bit less of them . Anyway enough about illness and politics  here are a few pics from my first trip of the season . With my first fish of the season a little sea trout smolt that snaffled my nymph.  



So back to fishing, for me this season is a continuation of how my fishing experience is changing and developing. Over the last year or two pretty much all my fishing is now wild fishing  I would cut out all the rivers I fish that are stocked all but I am very attached to one of clubs and feel I just have to stay with it. My first few trips have been pretty dire, rivers here are very low and gin clear with little insect life and very few rising fish it has been a miserable start to the season. 


Looking forward . At the start of every new year I sit and get out all the fly boxes and look at whats left after the carnage , generally my view is if there a corner of flies that look like they havent been used I probably wont bother for next season.   Over the last few years CDC has played a bigger role and traditional dry hackled flies have receded ,  also tiny Deer hair sedge patterns have seen lots of success and use. So there are more of them for this season.  I am forming an opinion that flies that essentially sit in the film like CDC F Flies and emergers are less prone to drag I suppose it obvious that having an anchor in the surface film is bound to make a difference,  I know Micro drag sounds terribly high brow ,  but I have come to the conclusion that even microscopic amounts of drag will make enough difference .better anglers than me have been saying it for years it just takes a while for an average angler like me to catch on.   Also I have had more success on very small streams with spider patterns , generally fished directly upstream and on very short drifts , previously this was a technique I saved for bigger rivers .  Only if there was a very strong rise happening to up wings would I use a hackled dry .  First choice would be a CDC IOBO. 


 Also my angling approach is changing ,  I have now got an increasing collection of cane rods, traditional reels and silk lines.  the silk lines are a revelation .  They roll cast superbly and due to the lower diameter they cut through the wind delightfully and land so delicately I haven`t looked at any of my two weight rods all last year.  I have silk lines from  three different makers ,  Terenzio , these are superb and work beautifully straight from the box .  I have a Thebault level line which was the first silk line I bought and excellent line for faster water .  I have also bought a couple of Mr Moxons excellent lines ,  these seem to require a short period of breaking in much in the way your new leather walking boots need a bit of a beating before they feel part of you . But I have DT 3 silk from Mr Moxon I have used it three of four times now it is still a little noisy through the rings but it casts very nicely and love the taper on them . These are available from my Good friend Richard at :https://www.barbless-flies.co.uk/products/ian-moxon-silk-fly-lines-made-in-sheffield-uk

I did flirt with the Wulff bamboo fly line and although it worked well enough I prefer the silk, I suppose largely influenced by the fact I see bamboo and Silk as a dry fly tool.  To be used on Spring days and Summer evenings .  If I intend to fish the nymph to a great extent then I will get a carbon rod out of the car boot. 



there is a lot to look forward to this year , starting this Saturday when I feel that a trip to the Ure is on the cards .  




Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Reasons to be cheerful..

 So here we are 2021 a year that has a lot of responsibility.  In so much as everyone is relying on  it to drag us all out of this pit.  2020 was by all standards pretty miserable .  I think it turned out pretty much like everyone imagined 2001 would be , remember all the doom and forecasts around what the millenium bug was going to do ?.  in the end everything was fine.  Well 20 years on Covid showed us how bad a year can be.   

Anyway , reasons to be cheerful well for me there are a few . Vaccination is going well in the UK , My family have so far stayed clear of it. But more importantly last year my daughter showed an every increasing interest in going fly fishing with me something that I am hoping will continue this year.  So far the signs of enthusiasm are there . Also my middle Son who returns from a year working in South Korea in a couple of weeks and as of last week is now a member of one of my favourite fishing clubs ,  So there is the splendid thought that this year I can share days and evenings fishing on one of my favourite rivers with two of my kids this year . The river fished wonderfully last year with some superb small stream Brown Trout and Grayling ,  I just hope that the winter floods haven`t done to much damage ,  

This is the Stream in question it isnt a large river but I consider it to be just about perfect. lets hope the year brings more fish and more bent rods...for all of us...I just need to get them both some casting tuition. I can watch not that I need to you understand....


In Many years fishing there  I have never caught a stocked fish .  It has the prettiest brown trout 




It is a fairly small stream despite being called a river ,  but there are plenty of fish 

perhaps more importantly it has plenty of these in it ... So fishing throughout the year is always available 


Here is number 2 Son in action on a different river ,
Even in dead low summer conditions it always fishes..


Come on 2021 do your stuff,,,,,,


Wednesday, 10 February 2021

2021 Looking at Small Streams and Cane rods

 So thats it then.  2020 is over and on reflection it has been pretty grim in so many ways it has been been easy to forget the positives.   Which there have been in amongst all the strife.  When the fishing did get going the rivers fished beautifully , perhaps the lack of early angling pressure helped. Also throughout the season I have seen very few fellow anglers on the water, many of my fellow club member are  classed as seniors and have been staying away .  

When I could get to the river the fishing has been very good .  I have had some excellent days with guests and had super days as a guest .  I have caught some of the nicest fish that I have caught in recent years and enjoyed days with friends despite the social distancing all in all the season whilst been a little shorter has been excellent .  Sadly along the way I lost my oldest fishing buddy as my Father passed away .  lets hope that Spring time and vaccines will let everyone move back to some sort of normality .  



As for this yearI have excellent fishing to look forward to.   My growing love affair with Cane will be something that influences my fishing next year ,  but also silk lines ,  The delicacy of a silk line impressed me greatly this year.  I have had a cane rod for a good few years but it didnt really come alive for me until I put a decent silk line on it .  It was at that point that the line small diameter and subsequent delicacy of presentation really worked for me .  Over the last few years I have been toying with shorter 2 weight rods and I find that the three and four weight cane rods with Silk lines give even better presentation and work wonderfully well on small streams .  

So I am still here , so is the blog and so are the fish let’s be hope we are let out to play soon . There will be more cane and silk and hopefully lots of fish . 





Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Covid and the Art of Fly fishing

 

Fly fishing its a Holistic thing...A few thoughts 

One of the books I remember the most from my teenage years was " Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance " it was a book looking at metaphysics and quality and if you choose to read it will explain why its linked to my blog title and the post in a number of ways. It`s  a book well worth reading.

Anyway this year I have been fortunate that I have  been affected a lot less adversely than many people ,but lets be honest all in all its been a year unlike no other . To many people have suffered and died  and it has brought out the best in many people and also the worst in others. I don`t know how others feel about this but it has also heightened the awareness of how fortunate we are as fly fishers to have something at our disposal which allows us to escape .  





Just as an aside I run my own business and have a office in a small business centre . For some weeks the office across the corridor has been vacant and I saw a lady in there the other day , she has taken the lease. After a brief conversation I asked what her business involved , she answered she is a Holistic therapist , now I wouldn`t say I am a total sceptic but my eyebrows perhaps raised a little . When I think about therapy I have always considered fly fishing excellent for mental well being. Mental well being is something which has challenged so many in society this year and I believe the years challenges have sought many to seek something different . The fly fishing club I help to run has seen a large increase in those seeking to join and we now have the longest waiting list for many years. This is something that other clubs are reporting .

After meeting the lady.  I googled Holistic "Holistic is an adjective that describes things related to the idea that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. In other words, that the entirety of something must be considered instead of just considering its parts. This philosophy is called holism, and that's where the word holistic comes from."



I also then Googled fly fishing "Fly fishing is an angling method that uses a light-weight lure—called an artificial fly—to catch fish. The fly is cast using a fly rod, reel, and specialized weighted line. The light weight requires casting techniques significantly different from other forms of casting. The flies may resemble natural invertebrates, baitfish, or other food "... 

As someone who has fly fished for fifty years now personally the definition of Holistic defines better what fly fishing is to me than the Wiki definition of fly fishing which doesn`t get close really .  As I have got older and fished for longer like many people the experience has changed I, like many went through the "must catch more fish " then "must catch bigger fish" and then "Must catch more bigger fish of species X" . These days its about the whole experience , the Surroundings , the wildlife the degree of perfection in the fish,  I find myself resenting stocked fish as if they are intruding in an otherwise perfect world.  I am even changing how I choose to fish. 



This year I have found myself rediscovering the joy of bamboo and silk . After getting a cane rod made some years ago it was only this year when I put a silk line on it that I really felt it work for me.  I have since added a couple more and am currently starting to build another cane rod from a blank . Its a given that I will never split the cane myself of weave my own silk line ,but I don`t make my own hooks and yet the pleasure of catching on flies I tie myself is a constant joy.  So I will see where the holistic Journey ends don`t expect to find me sitting next to the stream , legs crossed and humming gently but I must confess I seem to find more time these days to just sit on the bank and lean back against a tree and smile at my own good fortune. I can thoroughly recommend it.  I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a healthy and holistic new year. See you on the river bank...

Monday, 12 October 2020

CDC Floatants which work best ...my thoughts on a few

A few weeks ago I managed to leave behind my normal CDC floatant when I went out fishing .  I have been using Miracle float for the last couple of years and have been happy with it apart from the cost and the difficulty of buying it .  Anyway I resorted to my red mucilin tippet floatant which I had with me and just made my finger ends greasy by the merest touch of it then worked the CDC between thumb and forefinger . I was astonished by how well it worked as well as anything I have tried, that prompted me to have a bit of an experiment . Over the last few years I have used red mucilin on tippets. Dilly Wax on hackles and miracle float on CDC and have been happy enough .  



Up front and Just to Clarify that all these were purchased by myself and are a bit of a random selection obviously favouring those that market themselves as CDC products. .  I have tried to get a decent representative sample of whats on the market .  


Its difficult to do a meaningful test on this sort of stuff but this is how I had a go and the conclusions I came to.

The first test was to simply see how long the flies would stay afloat with a single dressing . The two top right were the benchmark both just untreated CDC .  The one without the label is my bottle of miracle float I have been using for quite a while . I repeated this with different new flies including a batch of my home tied fuller dressed ones and the results were very largely the same .  As can be seen the products were by : Loon , Gulff, Veniards , Hends ,Guideline, Miracle Float and Trout hunter ,Dilly Wax and red Mucilin



So the tray with treated flies and a couple of untreated flies .  The f fly without liquid floatant but with the Silca powder treatment worked very well at the first time of treatment 



The two untreated CDC sunk first one sank within a couple of minutes the second at 4.5 minutes , which itself was pleasing as it showed that to some extent the products all worked .  Just as a note in a effort to get identical flies I prevailed upon my mate Richard who is the proprietor of https://www.barbless-flies.co.uk/ who kindly supplied me with them in the interests of Science , I tie my own and very few are identical and I wanted to have new flies for each trial .  The remaining flies all stayed afloat apart from the Loon treated one and after 20 minutes I started tapping the end of the tray I figured this would cause similar disturbance for each fly .  the level of tapping was increased and any further sinkers was noted with the times.  I repeated the test several times the results were remarkably similar .  



The results were as follows: 
The ice cube tray test demonstrated the following :  Flies were just floated without agitation to start with all the treated flies were similar and remained afloat . I allowed them to stay there untouched for 20 minutes . Then I agitated the flies increasingly hard until eventually resorted to pushing them below the surface.
When the periods of agitation were over all but one treated flies still floated each fly was then in turn pushed below the surface .  The flies that kept popping back to the top the best were the Guideline , Miracle float . red Mucilin and Silicon powder , However when the test was repeated with flies that were dried and retreated with floatant the floatability was not as good even for the Silicon powder only .  However when the treated and dried flies were dusted with Silicon all the results were as good as using a new fly with liquid floatant.




Okay so the test report is a bit rambling , but after checking the above results with a bit of riverside checking over the last month or two  this is my conclusion.. 

 1, With CDC floatant its all about getting the amount you use correct, this is influenced by lots of things , Consistency of the product , The thinner ones were harder to apply correctly, the key is having a greasiness between your fingers and then massaging the feathers if there is a real wetness then you have to much , I found the Trout hunter , Gulff , Veniards and Loon Lochsa were on the thin side . The Gulff Nozzle was well designed and helped. The loon nozzle dispensed to much to easily. The Hends and Guideline were good but a little to stiff , after they spent a few minutes in the fridge they were very hard to dispense ,  not ideal for cold days .

2, The best and easier in the field for me are the Miracle float and the red Mucilin which surprised me but to me performed as well as anything as long as the user has a feel for the right amount to use , which is the key to using any of them successfully .

3. Once you have your fly treated initially the key to success is not treating the CDC with more floatant but it is to dry it with Amadou or kitchen roll. ( The bamboo kitchen roll  stuff is best ) or use the elastic band twang trick. just dry and the apply silicon powder to the fly I have caught up to a dozen fish on the same fly by just washing of the fly and going through the process. Doing this test has reinforced what I had been doing for years and it appears that treated flies once drowned and dried seem to retain a slight stickiness which enables the Silicon to stick to the CDC fibres . They work better than flies that had not been treated .

4 .  So my recommendation would be to use either red mucilin , miracle float or guideline. But indeed most of them work but some are just a hell of a lot easier to apply correctly.  Each perform slightly better as temperature varies ,.  Personally I shall use the red mucilin. The other treatments may well end up in the Christmas raffle at my local club.

So.... A new fly should be treated with floatant then after a few casts or when it is drowned,  dried and have Silicon powder applied .  I think that reapplying floatant is counter productive ,  If you have never used any CDC treatements before most will work but the Miracle float and guideline are a good consistency to allow the right amount to be dispensed easily.  If you are used to CDC then I think any will work although a few of the thinner ones were impossible for me to apply correctly ..




This is CDC that has been treated with floatant then fished and dried and had powder re applied 



CDC fly with Silicon powder which clearly clings to flies that have been treated and dried. This is after a few fish and a lot of fishing. 



Underneath Untreated CDC fibres 




I am sure people will read and disagree,  but the key is like a lot of things its not what you use but how you use it.  Incidentally I have been using Silicon powder from the internet for years just filling up the old bottle . If you want to know what I buy then feel free to PM me .....