Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Autumn's knocking

It always surprises me when you reach mid-August how the light seems to start disappearing that little bit earlier. Always looking forward to the the next season, Autumn is always full of reward. Having been wetting a line in search of bass, it has been nice this week to get back on the chalk, chasing grayling and trout. Both are in fine condition and the last week has given some superb sight fishing opportunities.

Having just got back from guiding, I thought it time to share a few pictures from this week:

A cracking grayling falling for the French leader presentation

Guiding Colin on Wednesday, we were working through a series of techniques. Having never fished a chalkstream before he lacked the confidence the fish nymphs. By the end of the day he had managed to catch using the French leader, the dry fry and classic upstream nymphing - all sight fishing. Well done Colin!

A good grayling on the upstream nymph

This spotty fell for a sedge imitation


Saturday, 3 August 2013

Subtle tweaks (and plenty of thanks)

Hatches of blue winged olives (BWO) can often be relied upon for Summer sport and the evenings come into their own as the egg laying adults return to the wate, ending up 'spent' on the surface. These are easy pickings for the trout who position themselves in a food lane and simply tilt to to intercept the fly. Now imitations are fairly easy to tie, but is one time where dry fly colour could be argued as important. The 'sherry spinner' (BWO, Imago) has a distinctly orange coloured body and the wings are transparent and clear. Importantly these wings are spread across the surface and these are clear trigger points for the fish.

Several imitations have worked for me in the past. However, always keen to adjust a pattern's effectiveness, I have followed the advice of others and made some changes that are here to stay:

The original imitation I used to carry was a simple spent wing of poly-yarn and micro-fibbet or Coq de Leon tails. These have served well and give a nice imprint in the surface. The challenge was identifying the location of the fly, especially as the light faded.

So the next version incorporated a simple pink post (TMC Aero-wing). I tied a batch this year with the Partridge Spider Hook (Size 16) - a really strong hook and one that is becoming a firm favourite for several patterns:

Whilst this pattern has worked this season for me and is an improvement on the original design, I couldn't help being tempted by some versions tied by Matt Eastham and Paul Procter who both fish the Eden regularly - a river which sees decent BWO spinner falls. This newer version employed a bend in the shank to suggest the natural's kinked body. This is a technique I have used for Mayfly spinners, but not for BWO imitations. Their patterns also had a parachute hackle trimmed front and back - far more delicate a profile than the poly wing and much more durable than CDC. Looked like a winner. So off to the vice one evening to tie a few new version - still on the Partridge Spider hook (#16).

A battle-scarred version of the BWO Para-spinner on the Partridge Spider Hook
They looked the biz, even if I do say so myself and I was looking forward to wetting them. Thankfully, despite the rain, the river was is fine fettle the next evening and I was able to watch the fish start to feed around 8.45pm. Accurate casting was needed to get the fly on target, but second drift down and I watched a good trout follow, observe and then rise to the new offering. Magic!

It must be wondered whether the old poly-yarn, straight hooked version may have been ignored at the last minute. Who knows?

My first fish on the new pattern
Another fish soon graced the net, again on the para-spinner imitation. A cracking fight with the fish going just over 2lb. It was working well.

A solid fish feeding hard on BWO spinners

Paul also showed a version with synthetic wing. I tied a few of these up too, albeit, without the pink wing post on some. It looks spot on and perfect for those extra fussy fish...

Raffia wing on the Partridge Spider hook

 Both new versions have a permanent place - thanks to Matt and Paul.

Check out Paul's blog here

and Matt's blog here.