Friday, 30 December 2011

The River Anton

Too much festive endulgement can be best resolved with a little grayling fishing and with the promise of a spell of warm sunshine, myself and Nick made our way to the River Anton, a tributory of the majestic River Test.

Cloud cover was fairly heavy as we arrived at first light. Chatting over flies, leaders and rods really started to get the imagination fired and anticipation of sight fishing for some of the river's larger inhabitants had begun.

The impressive River Anton - in apparently Autumnal colours

Tactics were to start with longer rods and heavy bugs, starting at the bottom of the first beat and making our way upstream. Nick was armed with the French leader and a Bi-Colour mono indicator. I stuck with the hi-viz fuled leader and a shrimp pattern.

Nick fished the French leader whilst keeping off the skyline

Whilst there were a few fish about, sight fishing was tricky due to difficult light condtions. Indeed, we really needed a break in th cloud to help us locate our target. In the meantime, a stealthy approach and running the flies through likely runs seemed the best tactic. It wasn't too long before Nick made forst contact - albeit it a small fish.

First blood to Nick!

Trout were evident in numbers and they were very active. There were redds on display too and fish were clearly in the midst of spawning.
Notice the bare gravel - the redds cleaned by the trout for spawning

Eventually a size 18 Tungsten bead PTN was seized by a small grayling and my first fish came boucing to hand. Cloud cover was remaining and it was making fish location a real challenge.

First fish of the day for me!

The wind was picking up by mid-morning and we had not been treated to the brighter conditions promised on the weather forecast. Despite this cooler breeze, a few Large Dark Olives were showing themselves -offering some hope of better sport as the day moved on.

Olives were starting to hatch despite the cool breeze (Gale?)

An unsettled band of weather started to move through with string wind and some rain, making delicate presentation of the fly more challenging. Using available bankside vegetation was essential to conceal our presence and also reduce to the effect of the poor weather.
Nick makes the most of bankside cover - a location that produced several fish for him

However, brighter skies were following the storm and soon the wind had dropped and the temperature rose slightly - enough to get the fish a little more interested in our offerings.

Brighter conditions followed the strom

Nick stuck again with a bigger fish this time - in need of the net - and a sigh of relief that the day had produced a quality fish.
Nick reaches high and slides the net under a super grayling

A change of fly was enough for my first decent fish of the day. A dogged fighter, I was pleased to put the net under a 1lb 8oz grayling - in fine condition.

A stunning 1lb 8oz grayling graces the net

Another fish graced my net shortly afterwards, this time tipping the scales to 1lb 10oz. The switch had been flicked and as I landed this beautiful fish, Nick also hooked a decent grayling just downstream from me.

1lb 10oz of Anton 'lady'

But it was the next drift through that really produced the goods. A delicate movement on the furled indicator saw the rod cushion the dives of a bigger fish. Slipping the net under the fish and I was sure we had a decent 2lb+ fish on the bank. Indeed, the scales slid to 2lb 2oz - and what a prime conditioned fish it was too.

Tipping the scales at 2lb 2oz, the smile says it all

The Anton leviathan is returned

A few more fish followed from this impressive river. In less than ideal conditions we managed to connect with some really fantastic fish and really blow out those Christmas cobwebs.

Now how about a 3lb fish? Happy New Year!


Thursday, 29 December 2011

The beautiful colours on a grayling's dorsal fin.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Keeping off the skyline

Saturday, 24 December 2011

A 'wiggle' cast in the making
 A very happy Christmas to everyone. Here's to a peaceful time with family & friends.

Best wishes,

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Gammarus imitation

I had promised a tying tutorial for a Shrimp (Gammarus sp.) on the River Fly Box. At last, here it is:

Tying instructions are here.

It is a really simple pattern to try out. I'd love to hear how it works for you.


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Barrio Fly Lines

I have been using Barrio Lines a lot this last season... here are some more for testing this weekend.

Unbelieveble performance and value: Barrio Fly lines


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Eat, Sleep, Fish... a new E-Zine

Eat, Sleep, Fish...
A little stroke of fly fishing genius. The brain child of Pete Tyjas.



Friday, 9 December 2011

Outlander Fly Tying Bag - Review

If you’re honest with yourself, how much of the fly tying materials you own gets regular use? How many necks and capes have you purchased that rarely get looked at, let alone a hackle selected and actually used? How many spools of thread do you own that never even come near to a bobbin? You probably don’t even know which beads, shell backs and hooks you actually own!

It’s not about ‘needing’; it’s an uncontrollable force that compels you to want more. As most fly tiers know, the range of materials you accumulate just continues to increase. As a result, travelling with fly tying equipment can be a frustration. Whether tying at shows , club demonstrations, teaching fly dressing or just fly tying away from home, there usually comes a time where you just cannot find that specific pack of feathers or that particular skin. Having tried for years without, it seemed time that I invested in a bag designed for the purpose of carrying materials – and the ‘Outlander’ bag, from fishing tackle supplier, Fishtec, has been a huge step forward.

Toughened plastic wallets - eight in total
This is a well designed and sturdy bag. Well made with stitched seams, you have every confidence in it keeping you kit safe. It’s pretty big too: 50cm x 40cm and with good depth. A clean, neat design, the bag looks good with its brown fabric exterior and tertiary coloured motif. With an external, zipped pocket, it certainly looks the part from the outside. 

Plenty of room and storage in the Outlander bag

Open it up and you are presented with a range of storage wallets. I must confess that filling the bag was really quite therapeutic – like a spring clean and a chance to really question ‘when did I last use that?’. At either end of the bag there is an open space for materials with a fabric cover. I found this perfect with one end holding a range of capes, necks and game skins. I could easily fit a couple of dozen of these in this area. The flap then pulls over and everything is secured with an adjustable strap and buckle clip. The other end houses rabbit and squirrel skins and a range of dubbing boxes. The pull-over flap on one side is actually a breathable zipped bag. Ideal for bulkier boxes of hooks, UV torches and beads.

 In the middle of the bag is a large, padded dividing board with 4 toughened plastic, zipped wallets on either side. Each bag can hold a good amount of materials. I chose to divide my materials up: for example specialist feathers, Coq de Leon, Shell backs, Synthetic strands, Wing post materials etc.  Usefully, this whole middle section is held in place by a tough Velcro strip – and therefore it can be lifted completely out of the bag
Plenty of room for all sorts of capes

The padded bag that keeps your vice safe and gives you even more storage pockets
A padded bag is also secure along the main bag’s Velcro spine and this is ideal for storing your fly tying vice safely. The range of pockets on the outer skin of this padded section is perfect for holding packs of hooks and magnetic hook boards. Each section of the whole bag seems to lie neatly upon the next.

Safe cushioning for your vice

Skins and dubbing boxes easily fit in one end of the bag

Both end spaces have secure clips with adjustabke straps - keeping everything in place

There’s easily enough space to house a few spools of thread and your tools too. Longer feathers, such as ostrich, peacock and pheasant tails centres can fit in the bag. In fact, it holds a surprising amount of kit.

I travel a lot with my fly tying materials. Whilst this bag hasn’t yet been overseas with me, I have every confidence in its design. A tough and reliable design, I have no hesitation in recommending it. The fact that you get change from £50 make it a no brainer! Highly recommended.

The Outlander fly tying bag is available from Fishtec.


Saturday, 3 December 2011

My new favourite toy!

Over the past few years, there has definitely been an increase in demand for longer rods when targetting trout and grayling in running water. The control that the extra length affords you is unquestionable. The popularity of French and Czech Nymphing styles have acted as a catalyst for these longer rods' popularity. I have been using longer rods for nearly all of my fishing; all except the very most tree-lined and overgrown streams. For nymphing, a 10'4" #3 rod has been put through its paces - and I am without doubt my catch rate has increased due to the better fly presentation, hooking potential and better take indication. So when a Maxia MX4 10' #2 rod arrived here this week, I was itching to get out and get a feel for it.

The build quality is very high, with the blank sporting carbon-wrapped guides and matt, stealth finish. Cork is high quality with a solid up-locking and ported reel seat. When nymphing, holiding the arm outstretched whilst tracking flies through a run is often essential. So fatigue can play an issue. This rod is whisper light but remains stiff and very much tip-action. Balance is essential and my older style Orvis LA1 reel balances the rod perfectly.

The perfect balancing act:

With the recent (and very welcome!) rain, my first view of the river tumbling beneath the Bridge looked promising. We may be some way off proper levels, but at least there was a healthy push down the weir pool. There was a slight stain to the water - certainly very inviting. I am always happier approaching the river when targetting grayling when there is the sound of crisp frost under foot. Not today! There ground was very soft and in places, thick with mud. I started by flicking the nymphs into a very promising run, working the flies through the foam line. It wasn't long before the hot orange tip of the furled leader flickered and then stabbed fowards - a neat lift being met with the bouncing rod tip and a small grayling showing itself.

Starting fly choice was a slim, heavy-weight caddis imitation and a pink-beaded biot nymph:

Each pool and run was finding plenty of small fish. The delicacy and accuracy of this rod was immediately obvious. The nymphs could be flicked onto a penny piece. When lifting into takes, the rod tip was immediate and highly effective. A quick turn of the wrist easily set the hook - and although it is a stiff rod, the soft tip forgave every twist and turn of the fish.

However, finding the better fish was proving rather difficult. Indeed there were times the fish seemed to be getting smaller and smaller:

Moving up through the next pool, several very quick takes resulted in a small but very pretty out of season brown trout.

 Time was short today, but what a pleasure to be out on the river and casting with such a delightful rod. Lots more to tell soon - watch this space!

Taking some new maxia rods for a swim later... grayling beware!


Saturday, 26 November 2011

I have just been taking the photgraphs for a tutorial of a Gammarus pattern I have been using this year, More details soon, but here's a little taster:


Saturday, 12 November 2011

Spiders for winter grayling

Whilst it may be unseasonably warm, the effects of Autumn are certainly upon us and we are being treated to a display of colour which is worthy of note. This is quite possibly my favourite time of year; but it is the first few frosts that really get the grayling fishign under way. At least we have had a little bit of rain which has brought the river's levels up - albeit still way off where they should be.

Once the cold weather is with us, the grayling tend to shoal together and locating them with heavy bugs can be highly effective. However, fish are willing to rise even in the coldest of weather and looking through my notes I can see many occasions when I have found rising grayling right into the depths of winter. Indeed the dry fly is a very realistic option.

At times, I have also found spiders to be very effective. Fished just under the surface or deeper with a sacrificial nymph, they can really be of interest to the grayling. Here are a couple of of generic spiders that I use for the 'ladies of the stream'. Working well in both coloured water and gin clear rivers following heavy frosts, they are certainly more than just a last-chance approach. Perhaps not for the purist, but I urge you to give them a go:

The Hook is a Partirdge Classic spider in #14 and #16. The thread is Roman Moser Powersilk in hot pink.


Saturday, 5 November 2011

Snipe & Purple

 The Snipe & Purple - I like to carry two subtle variants:

The Traditional

 The 'Short'


Saturday, 29 October 2011

Coq de Leon Wets

A couple of favourite wet flies: tied with Coq de Leon hen hackle:

Without the peacock herl thorax:

Tied on the Partridge Classic Spider hook.


Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The thunder clouds roll over behind: whilst holding 10 feet of carbon at arms length may sound like madness, these unsettled condition are stirring things up on the river.

Some huge caddis were fluttering about apparently unmolested - but nymphs were being targetted amongst the deeper pools:

Monday, 24 October 2011

I have been waiting in anticipation for the new Partridge 'Classic Spider' hook. First efforts just had to be the Partridge & Orange - tied very sparse on a size 14: