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 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 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 .....

Monday, 28 September 2020

Small Stream Grayling


So it looks like the Trout season is done and dusted for the year .   There have been no monsters but a few good ones well good ones for the streams I fish.  The late start due to Covid didnt help matters much . then the August drought slowed things up . Amongst other things that are new to me this season  I have brought the cane rods out of storage in particular one I had built a few years ago and didnt really bond with it.  Getting the right line for the rod has brought it alive and have enjoyed the feel of a fish on cane rod and casting a silk line and am now looking forward to next season  and getting used to the feel of cane and silk and hopefully getting to understand what I want, then I plan to invest invest in a bespoke rod.  Cant help but worry that I need to go through the learning curve again.  The last ten or 15 years years has seen so many carbon rods come and go as I worked out what was right for me .  I dont want to make the expensive mistake with cane and have the wrong thing built.

Anyway the truth is although the trout season finishes next week apart from potential sea trout in my local stream during October thats my trout fishing finished for the winter. its likely I wont do much sea trout fishing as my enthusiasm for chucking metal about or spinning as the afficionado would call it.  I know its effective but i really struggle to be enthusiastic about it.   Although I confess that I have been known to put a hildibrandt spoon on a fly rod , now shame on you the crowd yell take him out and flog him jeer the fly only crowd.  But it is legal and it is very effective and I can sort of kid myself that at least I caught on a fly rod it also lets me dibble a lure in the places the guys with the Mepps tend to walk past.

This year I have joined a new club well actually two and will look forward to them again next year . I have enjoyed not catching more than the very occasional stocked fish and have loved the wild fish that populate the streams .  So looking forwards now  the door to the trout season has virtually closed as this weekend has been a mixture of a blowout and a washout as the storms hit fairly hard in these parts  So the little chap below is likely to be my last Trout of 2020. The aphid pattern in his mouth and the fallen leaves on the water tell their own story. 

So it looks like the end of the trout season for 2020 will be remembered for me by the quality of the grayling I have caught in the last couple of weeks , it also heightens my level of optimism for the next months . All the rivers I fish have Grayling but there are two particularly ,  one would seem to have a particularly healthy population  of fish that run to decent but not exceptional size the other seems to have very low population but with some real clunkers that show up from time to time .  the one at the top is an example. Variations on this theme have been doing well for this year .  Or a silver beaded version .  Size 16 and 18. 

Despite what you read or some experts would have you believe a 2lb Grayling is a very very special fish I fished for many years before I found one, a 3 lber is a fish of a lifetime and certainly something that will probably evade me  and anything over a pound and a half is a real specimen.  I think that sadly Social media and magazine reporting has given many an unrealistic view of what fish they could reasonably expect to catch to some extent with Grayling and most definitely with trout .  This then drives pressure on clubs and other fisheries to stock,  As I said in my last post it surely cannot be coincidence that the two rivers that I fish that are completely un stocked are the ones that consistently deliver the better fish .  

Saturday, 19 September 2020

Summer is leaving Autumn is coming...


Catching this fellow at the weekend reminded me that the Trout season is nearly over .  Due to Covid  the Season has been the shortest one ever.   But what there has been has been of good quality .  My little North Yorkshire Streams have been in fine form for the majority of the season .  With a short period in August when the streams became very very low and the fishing dipped a little . But the quality of the fish has throughout been superb. 

This stream has produced some wonderful Brown trout . Pristine and wild they are a pleasure to briefly hold.  For the first time in many years I can say that the number of stocked fish I have caught has been less than the fingers on one hand. That alone has given me immense pleasure. I have over the years fished nearly all the Vale of York streams ,  It surely cannot be a coincidence that the un stocked ones have a greater fish population and also better average native  fish size .  

this is an example of what a proper wildie should look like and on a two or three weight rod they are great fun this was out of a stream that is only about 3 - 4 yards wide...

This was my best trout at the weekend . They are still rising freely .  They do not give themselves up though , they are very skittish and careful wading and casting are the key.  

So as we move towards the end of September its goodbye from the trout and hello to the Grayling.. 

Although not the biggest this sis the stamp of fish that I encounter all the time .. It is going to be a good winter 

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Small Streams, Cane rods and pretty fish

How can i add much to these photos.   This was my Saturday . I had intended to fish elsewhere but a farmer working noisily , together with cattle in the stream put me of and I gravitated back to one of my favourites .  Despite the very low conditions and very spooky trout I managed a few 

Its been a while since I had taken the cane rod out for an outing .  Forgotten how nice it feels with a fish on the end. 

Pretty fish on a pretty stream , simple pleasures 

Its normally 6 inches deeper than this . On a small stream thats a lot...I spooked a lot more than I landed ... a hell of a lot more .

 First time out for the new reel .  It balances the cane very nicely ...perfectly you could say 

 Something very soothing about moving water....