The place that fly fishing occupies in my life is impossible to describe; deeply personal, as it is for any one of us. It has become somewhere I go, on waters I love so much, where I can do exactly what I want to do, without hindrance from anyone, or dogma, but rather where I can take experiences from so many years with a fly rod to the next level. I have always been fascinated by instinctive fishing, rather than mechanical technique, while always supported by experience. I have enjoyed the evolution of tackle in our sport and frankly endured the severely limiting nature of some of it over the years. We are so lucky nowadays, because the tackle is supremely good; so much so that there is little that is genuinely new, or significantly more advanced.
‘Duffers’ Fortnight’ in late May & into June is supposed to be when trout are at their easiest to catch on rivers that have good Mayfly (Ephemera danica) hatches, but this is not always the case. Whilst there are times that epic catches can be made, for those who believe that with the Mayflies will come suicidal trout feeding there can be disappointment & frustration.
Whilst I have come to prefer rods with a softish, progressive action for most of my fishing, when casting in a strong wind I find that a short, crisp actioned rod is a more suitable tool for the job as mentioned above. The short relatively stiff rod cuts through & beneath the wind & generates very tight loops when required.
Well we’re into November & the traditional grayling season. Covid restrictions mean that I’ve had to fish locally. Unfortunately my closest grayling water, Driffield Beck, has suffered over the years from heavy cormorant predation. As a result there are very few grayling in the parts of the river that I have access to, but some are very big. This autumn water levels are low & the beck is clear so sight-fishing is possible making it easier to find a fish to target. On a good day I might see between two & half a dozen decent grayling to target.
nyone who has read my earlier Blogs, or my articles in Fly Fishing & Fly Tying magazine, will know that my passion is precise presentation of immitative flies, particularly dry flies, to trout & grayling, mainly in rivers. To achieve good presentation of the small flies that I generally use (typically size 14 to 30) requires light lines & long leaders (12’ to 18’) ending in relatively fine tippets (5x to 8x).
In my November 2016 Blog I gave details of some of my favourite grayling flies (Orange & Pink Gamarus, Orange & Pink Utah Killer Bugs, Red & Pink Squirmy Worms, Bead-head Partridge & Hare’s Ear Spiders & Small Bead-head Nymphs). Here are some more that I have had great success with during the Autumn, Winter & Early Spring.
oft rods are much more fun when playing small fish. However they are capable of landing big fish when required (I’ve successfully played & landed rainbows of just short of 6lb on my Sunray 10’ 6” Zero weight rod & brown trout just short of 4lb on my Sunray 7’ 6” 2 weight Microlite rod).
I hate the big, super buoyant Bungs made of polystyrene, cork or hollow plastic. They are generally clumsy, big, create a lot of resistance to a taking fish & are either difficult to adjust the depth or if designed to be easily moved along the line some tend to easily fall off during casting.
I use a 10' #2 Microlite fly rod on the River Hodder at The Inn at Whitewell. Then, switch to Stocks Reservoir to catch rainbow trout using the same rod. You don't need stiff rods and thick fly lines for stillwaters.
March is the month that many flyfishers think about that classic Heptagenid, the March Brown, Rhithrogena germanica. This species has suffered a decline over recent years (as have many other Upwinged species) but there are encouraging signs of recovery on some rivers.