Tuesday, 9 June 2009


It's been a strange old year so far! Normally I'm able to predict with some certainty when, and what, will be hatching on my local river Touvre, but this year it's been all about the weather?

In my opinion the main foods available to trout on the river Touvre are scud and caddis. With every handful of weed, you discover hundreds of scud, and caddis hatch each and every day throughout the trout fishing season, mayflies are a secondary, but less important source of food.

Normally by mid May (the time wading starts, and proper fly fishing commences) the trout have seen many PMDs and other small to medium mayflies. However the hatches of mayflies on the river, are rarely large enough to bring the bigger trout to the surface. With such large quantities of scud and caddis available, its just not calorie efficient to switch their feeding habits to mayflies, from caddis and scud!?

However in past years, the mayfly hatches have been fairly predictable, and during the daytime you could expect a rise of short duration, provided you knew just 'when and were'. But this year because its been to cool, or due to heavy rain (hail at times) it's been almost impossible to pin anything down?

For example last week a good friend told me when, and were, he caught a few fish on dries, during a small hatch of mayflies. The following day I took up position in the place, at the appointed time, but no hatch came off, well a few, very few. But not enough to get fish to the surface. And that's just what its been like since the start, up and down.

In the past it's been all about the late mornings or early afternoons, but now it seems to be late evening, into dark. Then you can have multiple hatches going on, caddis, mayflies, midge and spinner and your changing flies like a whirling dervish. It's difficult, very difficult!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Why do you fish?

From the number of young lost, I dont think Moorhens are very good parents.

Too many Swans on your river?

Brown trout on cress.

Versatility! and how to learn it.

I like to think I'm a fairly decent fly fisher, with good presentation skills, keen observation, and fair tying skills. However I do know I'm not inventive, and have to copy others ideas to hone my skills. To be a really great fly fisher, I believe you HAVE to have this something extra.

Take for example the American fly fisher John S. Barr, from reading his wonderful new book, Barr Flies http://barrflies.com/ you clearly see the high sense of inventiveness this extra special angler has. For those who don't know about John Barr, he has listed over 20 original flies in the Umpqua Feather Merchant's catalog, and is the originator of the most famous Copper John. If you don't have this book, I can most highly recommend it, both for the idea's within the book, and the excellent fly tying.

I don't for one minute think being a copier is a bad thing! we cannot all be John Barr. But I think you do owe it to yourself to be versatile! Many of the anglers I fish with, and anglers I see on the river, only have limited methods of fishing. Their main method of attack is dry fly fishing, that's fine if you have rising fish, but not much good if you don't. Few know how to present nymphs on the river bed, or when wet flies may be appropriate. But to learn a new skill is not that difficult, if your willing to put yourself out a little.

For example last winter at our Fly Fishing club's tying evening, one of our new members came with his new fishing reel, and new fly line looking for advice on how to attach his tippet! Unfortunately he didn't have any backing for the reel, and had ruined the first 30cm of fly line by putting the line on his reel back to front! We sorted him out, and the damage was not too bad, but this basic "setting up your tackle" could have been found in most basic fly fishing books, or at his local tackle shop. You only have to look or ask, and that's the key.

Today we have so much information available, both in books, DVDshttp://essential-skills.tv/, on the Internet, and through fishing clubs. To be versatile you have to want to learn, and you have to be willing to ask for help, then you must practice it on the river.

As trout take around 80% of there food from the river bed, nymphing skills are essential, but if you cannot present the fly accurately to the fish, your chances fall dramatically.

A decent casting coach can teach you simple presentation skills in an afternoon if you have the basics down.

If your a complete novice, paying for a lesson is money well spent, and will save bad habits creeping into your casting. I'm amazed how many long term fly fishers I see, who don't have any line control skills. Many cannot mend line effectively or collect line with their spare hand. If your a river angler, being able to control your line once its on the water is an essential skill, you have to know. Being able to present you fly with accuracy is just a minor part of presentation, it only ends when the trout takes your fly!

Fly fishing is a continuous journey, with no final destination. We should never think we know it all, or that one technique will get you through a day on the river. To be versatile you have to copy, read, research, and practice, and never be afraid to ask for help, its never been more available.