Thursday 28 November 2013


November fishing is ok I guess  its the first month after all of the river trout season has gone .  Don't get me wrong I love to to fish anytime and fishing in November is better than not fishing at all.  But as much as I would like to say " I love Grayling fishing " the truth is, largely I don't. Grayling are a stunning fish and always enjoy catching them but as the winter draws in  the manner of fishing for them with leaded bugs in steely grey cold winter rivers really does nothing for me.  I guess at heart I am a dry fly man , not out of prejudice or snobbery but out of sheer bloody enjoyment.  My first trout was on a dry and and I hope that so will be my last.

Anyway a couple of Sundays ago after working a lot of weekends and with a weather eye looking towards the forecast for an icy blast that week I headed of to the river.  Several layers of clothing layered under my PVC chesties to protect my buggered knees from the cold. At the beat I usually check the book to see who has fished recently, well the answer was  the last person to fish was me... In September . The lack of bank side prints would seem to confirm it.   Even otter prints seemed to be absent .  I worked my way up the first few pools with the confidence of fishing a familiar water.  The fish are in there I know they are.  But after 45 minutes of careful progress they were all still in "there" and hadn't visited my net.  I was using a duo of a caddis pattern with a green bead head and size 18 pink southall shrimp.  A combination that has worked well for me on this stretch.

Around lunchtime things the sun made an appearance warmed a little and a few small needle flies came of and a few olives , I was just  wondering if perhaps I had overdone the layers of clothing when all negative thoughts disappeared when I spotted a rise about 30 m upstream in the fast water at the top of the next glide.  Its amazing  what effect  the site of a rising fish has on my demeanour I changed to a little cdc olive and worked my way up the pool , after 15 minutes of slow progress I had taken two tiny grayling and I was as near as I could get to  the fast water where a couple of fish were feeding, at that point in the stream there is a big back eddy which combined with a silty bottom takes the clouds of river bed you stand in back up to the head of the run,  the fish go down pretty smartish .  So it means a cat of about 30ft across conflicting currents so you get about 6ft of drag free drift. Which is usually ok if you drop your fly on the money.

There was a couple of fish rising I figured decent grayling and joy of joy second cast the lower one took .  Now here's the thing what came out were two lovely brownies of about a pound and half each in pristine condition they both fought like tigers, for that 10 minutes the sun shone the air was warm and the trout rose. Almost as if they were reminding me about them and saying don't waste your time go home tie flies and come back next summer....Now I don't think I will manage do that, the draw of the running stream is too strong and I will keep returning to get my fix. I will be wading the river in the forlorn  hope that just for a brief moment the river will perhaps just for a few moments once again forget its winter.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

lifes less of a drag when you leave a footprint.

Although my new business has cut down on my fishing time I am starting to find  the odd evening to do some fly tying and when I opened my fly tying desk this last week I found a half tied f fly emerger still hung in the vice. A  simple CDC dressing but all the more effective because of its simplicity. The more I fish and these last few years I have been lucky to fish quite a bit, I have realised somewhat late in life that the things that make the difference are to a large extent, items that are surprisingly simple in principle. But actually quite hard to achieve in practise. I have gone through the easy stages most anglers do.  The "well if I just had a four weight 6 inches longer" stage of wanting two cupboard fulls of rods and reels.  The stage of having multiple fly boxes stuffed with bezzillions of flies .  I even spent a season making the ultimate tippet sinkant , I would add that dishwasher rinse aid, glycerine  and fullers earth is the best I came up with.

Which brings me back to that little CDC fly , last season it accounted for more fish than probably all the other flies together. Which makes me think what makes it so successful,  Is it the actual pattern it does have a very simple profile and dressing or is it the fact that as it sits trapped in the surface film it is anchored and less likely to drag. For quite a few years I have clipped my fully hackled dries comparadun style.  I find them more effective but is it the profile or the fact that they sit in the film with a very pronounced footprint and are also less prone to drag?.  Same for the paradun and the klinkhammer all killing patterns but is their resistance to drag part of it?.

Which brings me again to that word, drag,  now when I started fly fishing drag was when your fly left a wake across the surface like a motor launch. now I find myself thinking about  micro drag, something that as I fish more and hopefully improve  I am starting to get pretty serious about.  Fishing with a few anglers who usually out fish me there has been a common theme they are all pretty anal about drag .  We have all seen those missed rises when a fish bulges around your fly and turns away at the last moment .  Well I have gone through the obsessive period as to is my leader floating or sinking and still haven't made my mind up about if it matters or not.   But what I am certain is that a fly that is behaving differently to everything else about it will get ignored.

When I was doing the invert monitoring one month last year lots of the baetis nymphs were hatching in the sample trays it gave me a chance to study them in a glass tray of water . looking up from underneath gave me a fascinating insight into the footprint that the natural leaves on the surface ,  certainly it reinforced my liking for paradun style flies.  If you haven't tried it I recommend it its a sure fire way of altering your perception of what make a good dry fly its also an excellent way of looking even more eccentric than fly fishermen normally do.  The footprint thing is for another day I know I have mentioned it on here before but " in the ring of the rise " is one of the more enlightening books I have read for a good while.  I thoroughly recommend it.

Constable Wallop Brook

 I picked this rod up at the Grayling Society Auction at the last Symposium. What a cracking little rod !!! . I am getting increasingly fond...