Monday, 13 June 2022

Old mans Cane?

 Recently on Facebook there was an interesting link to a piece by Simon Cooper.

Saying why do we pretend cane fly rods are any good.? I am sure that the post was targeted at getting a reaction but it does ask a sensible question ,  After all whey would we use craftsmanship and feel rather than technology and the latest space age tech. Why would we not take advantage of progress?  I think the answer has to be for me because sometimes they are best,  for sure carbon fibre does indeed provide a wonderful material for fly rods I have several, actually many  , but there are a few reasons why I still love the bamboo. The judgment is not one based on science and pure performance rather the it is down to qualitative and not quantitative factors. For example as much as I have a nice powerful and comfortable German car that will cruise all day long at the limit and do everything I want if I had a lottery win at some point I would find a nice classic sports car to have a run round the country lanes on a warm summers evening. I suppose I could have indulged in something like it now but truth is I like fly rods a lot more than cars ,well  its a similar analogy for cane rods they do the same as carbon but I think in a more leisurely and classy way ,  by the way I am new to cane its only the last 6 or 7 years when I have started to gain the habit ,  

Practically for cane  small stream rods 7ft 6 inch and less seems to me the sweet spot for getting the most out of the material. The little extra weight of cane to some extent works the rod its self, roll casting is a dream with a silk line and close range casting is easy . Lets be honest how many times have you met people with short modern carbon rods who are having to  overline the rods to get the thing to load at short ranges ,  That is where Cane works best. 

This is by usual standards on my streams a nice open pool but you are constantly surrounded by trees usually with a high bank behind you and nothing is manicured there are lots of things waiting to grab the fly .  The rod is a six foot three weight and the silk line is perfect ,  roll casting and tight loops when required come easily. Also forget the rods did I mention stealth?. Stealth doesn`t come easy for me. A little overweight, well over 60 and someone who spends most days behind a desk.  But if you aren`t stealthy the fish will not play ball.  

Below is a typical problem the fish will be at the tail of the faster water around the corner to the right ,  trouble is when you get to that little archway its a left handed roll cast to fish only 15 ft away. The silk line doesn`t cause so much surface disturbance as plastic and is perfect for the job  .  

Another thing now I admit that cane can be broken ,  I actually had one of the tips replaced after slipping on the bank and landing on this very rod a few years ago ,  Chas the builder told me I was a clumsy fellow , I think it was fellow I am sure it began with an F, anyway he ordered me a new tip from Chapmans ,  but by and large i find that cane is no more breakable with sensible use.  In fact if you clatter a branch on the back cast I would say cane is more robust than carbon . 

The result of my crap looking left handed roll cast was this little chap.  Not saying I couldnt have caught it with a carbon rod but wouldn`t have done it with as much class, I guess what I am trying to say with all of this is ok if you fish the ressies or big lakes and wide open rivers you will stick with Carbon and wouldn`t argue.  When I fish the Ure its Carbon all the way , but at the moment only because my longest cane is 7ft 6 inch .  

The picture below tells no other story than this pool normally produces a fish or two if you are lucky. If you can extract a fish near the downstream end of the tree roots and hustle it away quietly you can sometimes get another right at the upstream end ,  On that day I hooked a small fish at the bottom and it shook the hook as it cartwheeled up the run.  I would call it a pool but size wise its more like a bath tub. 

To really appreciate Cane I think you need to fly fish a while , probably 20 years plus.  Perhaps slow down a bit and get rid of all that youthful energy and the need to catch more and bigger fish.  Then start to enjoy the finer things in life.  These days I drink less wine but I drink finer wine there is I am sure a link there ,  Perhaps I need to ditch the plastic cool box and get a wicker hamper and a proper picnic set as well perhaps some nice preserves and cured meats  now instead of the crisps and sandwiches.  I don`t think I could do the full Peter Arfield and actually dress period style. So I shall continue to look as elegant as an unopened Arab Dustbin to quote the great Spike Milligan.  Seriously if you are fishing small streams try a cane rod.  You wont regret it...

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Summer starts here and bamboo days on small streams


Its been a tough April.  Very low levels, cold water and cold winds combined with little insect life has meant that catching trout has been hard work.  The grayling which are out of season have been rising freely and feeding well whilst the trout have been hiding ,  The last few days have seen the temperatures rising. This weekend as it is now May I thought I would mark the occasion by going to a local favourite stream armed with bamboo and silk .  I apologise for using the American "Bamboo " rather than the traditional English term "cane " It is not because I have been reading to much Gierach it as a survivor of the English boarding schools system enough to say I have several painful memories of the Cane. So for me " Bamboo " it is.  I am not a die hard bamboo fan as most of my fishing is done with Carbon rods .  But over the last few years the appeal of the traditional Bamboo and silk has grown on me.  

The growing appeal is not linked to any romantic notion of returning to times gone by .  It is I think more a reflection of my interaction with  the river . It may be all in my head but when you play a fish on a silk lane and cane rod the feeling of connection is more intense the lack of stretch in the line and the flex of the cane gives a different experience .  It is also a very efficient method of fishing .  The silk line I was using above was a 3wt which I can confirm floated nicely for all of the four or five hours fishing .  its diameter was thinner than that of the 2 wt plastic line I used a few days before .  It casts beautifully with very tight loops and roll casts better than any plastic line .   Fishing Bamboo makes you slow down your cast , force one and it will protest .  But work with it and it will do everything that modern materials will do , granted a little slower and also a little costlier .  Although decent cane rods can be obtained for less than the cost of expensive carbon and silk lines are dependent on the brand can be obtained for less than £100 .  The truth is for me If you love the places you fish and you are happy with the size of fish you catch then the only way to improve things is to change the way you fish and therefore the quality of the experience .  For me that has meant that sometimes when the intent is to fish dries and perhaps tiny nymphs on a warm summer day then make a Bamboo rod and silk line your companion.  

When I started this blog many years ago it was started so that a relative could follow my exploits but these days it has become a journal ,  blogs have fallen largely from favour they have been replaced by the instant gratification of FB and instagram. This blog has matured now and there have been times I have considered ditching it but I am already looking back on the posts I made some years ago. I know that some years hence I will look at this post and remember that one moment when the river , the weather and the fish all aligned with me to give one of those special moments when everything is perfect.  A rising fish , a decent cast a perfect take followed by some airborn acrobatics to signal the start of summer and the perfect result.

Monday, 25 April 2022

First on a Dry...


I am not sure why the above annual headline is so important to me but I guess its pretty simple really ,  I have always been and always will be a fan of dry fly fishing .  not for any snobbish reasons but simply there is something fascinating to see that moment of the take.  It is that wonderfully visual moment when your deception has been successful. As a small boy before I tasted fly fishing for trout it was always the float that was my chosen method.  On rivers trotting a float effectively is a true art when done properly,  like fly fishing it is also obviously a very visual form of fishing and one also that teaches you an understanding of watercraft and reading currents and understanding the importance of drag . There are so many similarities with fly fishing. Looking back It is 50 years since I took up my first fly rod I am afraid that since then the coarse fishing has gradually slipped away and is now simply a whim or a walk down memory lane as my recent trip with my late fathers gear in the recent blog post.

So there we are,  my first brown trout on a dry of the season on a day when there was low cold water very little fly life and a nasty cold wind. Truth is I was convinced I would not do any good on the waters surface, but I think the river just took pity on me and provided me with one small but beautifully marked rising fish that took my seals fur bodied F Fly and allowed me a moment to admire its perfection.  On the day I also managed to catch two larger but stocked fish , well they weren`t getting a photo, This river produces the most beautifully marked brown trout . The one on the front banner of the blog was from this very section of river,  that is not the largest Brown Trout I have ever caught but every time I look at the picture I recall how perfect that particular fish was .  So far this season has been very strange, the second day of the season was as warm as a summers day and when I visited the river I was greeted by many rising fish ,  trouble is they were all out of season grayling ,  since then I have caught many grayling and few trout, so it was great today to catch no grayling and just brown trout...

The signs of Spring are now well established this tiny island hosted a swan every year when I last fished this section of the river which is actually around ten years ago .  I was amused to thumb back through the catch return back and see my reports still there from all that time ago.  As I stood to take the photo below I recall that many years ago I was sat there having a doze and break and became aware of an agitated buzzing ,  my hearing is pretty poor and it took a while to register that I was sat on the hole to a very large wasps nest . I moved carefully and slowly and managed to avoid stings .  Moving slowly was something I learned as a coarse angler when digging out nests for wasp grubs . I also remember how effective dry cleaning fluid aerosols were as a first line of defence. 

The river is looking pristine at the moment although the signs from the feeder streams are showing low flows already. Without some serious rain in the next few months it will be a very low river indeed by mid summer.

The smell of wild Garlic was pretty overpowering as I walked through it making my way upstream.  It is one of those evocative things that gives a strong sense of time and place ,  it also makes a damn fine soup with a suitable chicken stock. 

long time readers of the blog will recognise this view ,  it hasn`t changed it is still a beautiful river.

Monday, 28 March 2022

New trout season, Grayling and Covid

 There is something very special about the first day of the trout season and on this years opening day we had 16 degrees C and bright sunshine. Normally opening day in Yorkshire is barely above freezing,  windy and a day for tossing the leaded nymphs about .  On Saturday I decided it was dries or bust 
So looking at the conditions low clear water and sunshine I decided it was time for my little 6ft 2 wt ...

fishing here is about short rods delicate casts into pools and runs the size of dining table

This little fella is one two or three rods I fish here  I have always been a fan of the Orvis superfine touch the gentle action suits the small streams that I fish superbly.  This one was an ebay used bargain some time ago.   I think when i bought it it was completely unused.  

On the day the weather was very still . but when its windy it is very exposed.  I often bring two rods with me to cover the bases.  The other rod which on the day got no use.  Is an original Sage LL 7ft 3 4 wt ,  A lovely old fashioned medium action rod.

There was plenty of evidence of the effect of the early spring mild weather .  Bumble bees , butterflies and nesting birds were all in evidence .  This old lass and her two lambs stayed still long enough for a photo unlike the bees and butterflies .

Strangely today the Brown trout were absent , The Grayling which are now out of season.  were taking dries with abandon .  Although the only flies on the water were tiny midges ,  There was many risers each cast I hoped for a trout but each time disappointed . Tiny black dubbed f fly worked ever so well. Even tiny nymphs cast to trouty spots brought Grayling.   

No grip and grin shots today , The fish are out of season and I like to slip the hook out in the water , Just one quick snap before I released it.  Ridiculous really if I had been fishing for Grayling I would have had a great day I had 9 whilst trying to avoid them...

Anyway fishing is bolloxed now for a week or so.   I suppose it was only a matter of time....

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Farewell Orvis they have joined the race to the bottom....


Over the years Orvis has produced some very nice stuff ,  I have spent a fair chunk of money in the store and online. Some very good reels and nice rods.. As a small stream angler the Superfine touch were splendid ,  good reels too.  Who couldn`t help but love the CFO on a small stream rod . I even have a fair collection of shirts , jackets and chest waders .  All bought because I could visit a shop to check them out first.  It was the thing that set Orvis apart , 

For many years my family have known that for Christmas and birthday Orvis vouchers were always welcome.  Sadly this has gone to I have instructed them to buy no more.  The decision to just sell fishing tackle was I guess an accountants idea. So they are now entering that race to the bottom which is the internet,  the Orvis price premium was somehow acceptable given the high street presence and the quality image.  It would appear now that actually they are just another online seller.  Furthermore I would say not a very good one ,  I visited their website today and was completely unable to buy anything .  I could read a online catalogue which looked pretty much like the same format as Maxcatch ,  there was a very long message from Simon saying how sorry he was, but I couldn`t actually find a way to buy anything ,  Well Simon thats a pretty poor show really and it looks like you are losing the good will of this long time customer.  Surely with all the IT knowledge of a multi national you would have had a better transition than that,  even if  its a message from Simon saying normal ish service will resume shortly ,

Friday, 11 March 2022

Anticipation new season approaching


It wont be long now I keep telling myself ,  as of today it is 14 days to the new trout fishing season .  I put the rods down finally a few weeks ago  As the high wind and rain put paid to the end of the Grayling fishing ,  So for the last few weeks my time looks like this.  

  1. Cleaned and lubed all my reels and fly lines .The silk lines were taken of the reels last September so soon its time to treat and put them back on the reels. 
  2. Rods have been checked over 
  3. Attention given  to the fly boxes ,  I am always mystified on how perfectly ordered fly boxes at the start of the season can end up looking like our dustbin after a fox has been in it.  
The biggest battle for me has been avoiding convincing myself that I need another rod to a potential gap in the collection.

Anyway as the new season is nearly upon us its time my blog cover photo was a trout again.  So here is a new cover and another fond memory.  the one in this post was from another favourite river the Ure. The one on the cover was from the Rye a few years back on a stretch of river I will be fishing again this season.  Two weeks left till the new season and this weekend my first work party.   I must admit to being excited . 

lets hope for a good season.  So tight lines all...

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

Grayling fishing old style


As regular readers of this ere blog may recall my Father passed away a couple of years ago .  Now Apart from the great memories and a scruffy old cap.  He left me his Millwards featherlight Cane match rod and the matching Rapidex reel.  Which he assured me had bought on his 21st birthday.  Which would make the rod and reel almost exactly 72 years old. A couple of years before he left us We had a chat about the rod , he was keen that I used it and didn`t just hang it on a wall ,  He actually thought I might sell it as he didn`t think I would use it.  That is never going to happen. But when he passed away I decided that on his birthday on 6th Feb every year I would take it out and use it this year would have been his 93rd. The first year with Covid and foul weather it didn`t happen but I was determined that this year it would,  As it happened though the 6th was foul weather heavy rain strong winds and to be honest delaying it a few days didn`t bother me, Dad hated fishing in the wind so he would have appreciated that. Anyway yesterday I took a day out and went to my favourite stream.  I decided to fish in the appropriate  way. No waistcoat , My old brady bag a grayling society leather float tube with several very traditional floats ,  a three nuns tin with some split shot and some hooks to nylon although these days barbless ones , otherwise very much in the manner I fished with my Dad years ago.  

The eagle eyed amongst you will spot a George Lockhart float there he of the Flee and Float blog it seemed most appropriate that it got put to good use.  Now the first thing that struck me when I fitted the rod together was blimey it was heavy it also felt unbalanced even with the Rapidex on it. I guess we forget just how far Carbon fibre has developed lightweight gear. The fact that the rod is called the Featherlite made me grin. It also made me realise just how skilled an angler the old man was. he certainly handled it with more delicacy than I did.

Also apart from the obvious wear on the cork handle ,  the fact that the original ferrule stoppers are there and the lovely condition of the rest of the rod reminds me of how much care Dad lavished on it.

Once I had got the hang of float fishing with this strange gear.  It has been quite a few years since I ventured out with the trotting gear ,  I started to catch a few :  this was the first; I dont think I will ever tire of catching Grayling such a beautiful fish and in fast water hard scrappers too. 

I had about a dozen in all the fish at the top was the last one of the day.  A beautiful lump of a fish from a small stream , Also one that made the old rod creak and groan alarmingly . I probably played the fish over cautiously but the thought of breaking the rod tip was a real concern , hence the single snap of the fish in the net as I released it it was pretty tired I just lowered it into the stream to recover a few minutes until it swam away happily. That moment was the final act of the day .  It will probably be my last trip of the year too.  I cant think of a better way to finish of the season.

Its a pretty stream I am sure Dad would have approved ..

Thursday, 20 January 2022

January..Fishing without fishing and bamboo and silk

So January so far I have had two trips.  Most years it is about the same maybe three on a good year.  It is difficult to get motivated about standing in a ice cold river whilst searching for Grayling that are hugging the bottom . Up until Christmas you can console yourself with the hope that around lunchtime with a little bit of weak sunshine a small hatch may encourage the Grayling to look upwards.  Assuming the water is clear enough of course .  But the reality is despite what the books tell you lunchtime rises aren`t a common occurrence.

The good thing about January is that the whole business of planning your seasons fishing starts again ,  I have just paid my first subscription which was Jervaulx on the river Ure .  lets hope the rain gods are kinder this year . It fished well for trout early last year.  but the dry summer and brutal low levels made things very difficult otherwise,  Elsewhere I am involved with helping to run a couple of small clubs and the business of getting things moving has started.  The secretaries do most of the work I just tag along  spout a bit of rubbish at the AGM and go fishing.

It is also the time of year when I need to focus on tying some flies and organising the fly boxes ,  The fly boxes always start the season in fine form rows of flies lined up like troops ready for battle at the season start ,  But by the end of the season they resemble the straggled remains of a well beaten military expedition ,  out of formation and in varying states of undress with half their kit missing.  Which also reminds me I need to invest in some new tippet. But focussing on tying flies is a good way of trying to avoid my close season habit of convincing myself I need a new rod or reel or line... Something that I seem to be able to do with remarkable ease ,  despite having plenty of stuff ,  although I guess as my son is now fishing and I am encouraging my daughter to have a go I really do need to consider some new things.  It is amazing how  a little bit of resistance to new purchases can melt away when faced with such blindingly obvious logic.  See it happens every year.  Trouble is fly fishing stuff is so damned appealing ,  A friend has an online fly shop I was fishing with him one day and was catching and he wasn`t he nicked a couple of flies of me that were small and drab and pretty shit looking but they worked ,  he approved but commented that no one would buy anything that looked like that.  Reels that look good just say buy me ,,,apologies about the hideous backing colour but the silk lines are all cleaned and tucked up in their boxes until the season gets going.

One development and some would say an illogical one in my fly fishing activity has been my increasing interest and fascination in split cane rods or Bamboo as our American cousins refer to it. Many of my friends have said that it is a romantic view and carbon is king.  But on certain types of fishing they fit the bill perfectly and to some extent they are the perfect solution and yet nowadays are hidden in plain sight.  The modern Bamboo rods are a different beast entirely to the heavy things of a few decades ago and although expensive offer good value .  Also along with the bamboo rods I have developed a small collection silk lines , 

 I have never been a fan of fast action rods. Small streams and close range fishing means that improvised casts and roll casts particularly are the order of the day ,   I have found that bamboo rods tick all the boxes and the silk lines are very effective and not nearly as hard to look after as is often stated.  Their  ability to cut through the wind and unroll with such accuracy is brilliant and roll casting is a joy .  The silk line floats on the surface film by repelling the surface tension ,  the Plastic lines sit in it by displacement as a boat floats on the water.  So roll casts benefit greatly both in terms of less disturbance on lift of and more delicacy on the landing due to there smaller diameter ,  I am a convert to them.  there is no reason why you cant fish silk lines on carbon rods.  But to me it wouldn`t seem right and proper.  I am not saying I do not fish carbon any more I still use it the most but on a warm evening fishing the evening rise on a small stream there is a certain harmony from bamboo and silk. 

This is the rod that infected me with the sickness ,  I fear it is already to late for a cure.  It has now been joined by some new friends ,