By Jeremy Lucas
It is an annual thing, except that this year I have enjoyed two extraordinary trips to the San River in south-east Poland. They have been fly fishing episodes that have been rich in both discovery and consolidation. I have taken with me the superb Microlite GT 10’ #2. Five sections of fly fishing travel companion, and bliss for multi-method on the river.
Blue Winged Olives (BWO), Pale Wateries (PWD), Hydrospyche
As many of you will know, the San is an enormous river, a multitude of streams within the stream; complex, though offering unrivalled hatches, and opportunities, that can only be dreamed of by the modern fly fisher on English waters. Our most recent trip, in October, was filled with diverse hatches including Blue Winged Olives (BWO), Pale Wateries (PWD), Hydrospyche caddis and swarms of tiny Trichos, on which both trout and grayling fed in abandon.
There were, unusually, comparatively few BWO, though I never saw one of these escape being snatched off the surface by the fish! PWD were abundant, and similarly singled out by both trout and grayling. The large caddis were thick along the shores, though only a few ventured out over the water for egg laying, to be mobbed mostly by the smaller trout. The trichos were a revelation. I have never seen so many on the San, and the fish fed on them continuously, with only the up-wing flies, when hatching, taking preference.
Dry fly through the summer and autumn months
The San holds a staggering population of both trout and grayling and most of the time they are looking upwards, rendering dry fly the usual default method. Indeed, it is possible to fish nothing but dry fly through the summer and autumn months, though there are occasions when nymph might be better, or at least the delightful compromise of duo, or nymph under dry. On our October trip, I fished two days on more typically ‘pocket’ water, which suited duo very well, while the rest of the time I elected to fish the immense glides and riffle water that are so frequent on the San. Here is where dry fly completely dominates in terms of effectiveness.
I use the simplest of set-ups. On the superb Sunray Microlite GT 10’, is a JL dry fly line #2, with tippet of around rod length, loop to loop connected to the fly line tip. The 5X or 6X Hybrid tippet is ideal. For duo, I tie in a dropper about three feet from the point. It is not essential, but a touch of Lineslik on the tip few metres of the fly line every hour or so (I usually only do this at the start of the day) keeps it afloat, and you can also use a fine coating of this on the dry fly used for the duo technique. The set-up for dry fly is identical to above, without the dropper. There is no need for a taper between fly line and tippet, because these Sunray presentation lines are so fine in the tip, rendering obsolescent a gradually tapering leader.
Simple, but it is devastating. On the pocket water with duo the GT was just perfect, and I enjoyed roughly even numbers of (mostly) trout to the dry fly (Oppo) and nymph (Hydrospyche caddis jig, 16). The San trout this year are averaging 12” and they are astonishingly abundant. My companions and I all found the trout outnumbering grayling, overwhelmingly, on such water. On the glides and riffles though…
There is a fascinating section known as the Prison, and upstream, a 400 metre glide up to the ford at El Dorado. I don’t think anyone had fished here for a long while. My fishing pals were all upstream. After the phenomenal week we had had, I was left with this magical section to myself. I entered from the right bank and without thinking about it, acting on instinct and the experience of the week past, I tied on a size 16 flat-over-the-back plume tip; caddis-style. It was mid-day, with bright October sun and very little breeze.
400 metres and four hours, with that one fly, never changed, can you believe that? Something like a hundred fish, with at least thirty of them being grayling. Constant rising fish, sometimes dominated by trout, but when the grayling came up, while PWD made a show, it was sublime, rarefied dry fly fishing. I could not have wanted for better than the GT and the JL dry fly line, and the caddis-style plume tip. Actually, I don’t think there is anything ‘better’. What on Earth could beat this? Trout to 45cm; three grayling over the 40cm mark, and none below 25cm! 100+ among the wonder of nature that is the San tailwater.
The Grand Tourer is a concept, really, that I discussed once with Tom, and he has taken it in a direction more imaginative perhaps than mine. While the fly rod industry seems so focussed on four piece single handed fly rods, the Sunray panache has delivered the next step, married with beautiful, five piece blanks and subtle componentry. Load the GT with one of the gorgeous ‘dry fly’ lines, and you have touring perfection on any open river. Anywhere.