Thursday, 17 January 2008

Staying Safe

I just had a guy in the shop who I have looked after in the past. John Bratby is in his sixties and loves his fishing but his tales of Salmon fishing in Iceland brought a shudder to my spine. He recounted a day last year when he found himself wading without a buoyancy aid on a treacherous piece of river in Iceland ... next stop the Arctic ocean! He explained how scared he was about the whole event and that he now realises that he should have been wearing a buoyancy aid when fishing in such conditions. His guide should also have been right with him and so I advised he ditch his old provider of fishing holidays and have a word with Aardvark McLeod instead.

This conversation reminded me of a hilarious moment last year when young Harvey Boniface was out with myself, his Dad Mike Boniface and Henry Gilbey to get some images from our beautiful River Exe. Harvey is a lovable but very inquisitive fellow and I made the mistake of explaining that his crew saver that we had issued him with was activated by water. The result is below!

As the buoyancy aid exploded into life Harvey exclaimed "whats happening, whats happening!" It was a very funny moment but also really shows how important a device like this could be in dangerous wading situations. We stock them here and I am yet to add them to my website. A job I will do later! At under £70.00 can you afford not to invest in one?

Monday, 14 January 2008

Another Special Fish!

This is how the blog got going back in July 2007. 7 months into the year and our summer had quite literally dried up as day after day it chucked it down! However this is not so bad for us anglers because it means that Salmon will run the River Exe. Tim Watson took this Salmon on a day that will live with me forever. Check out the whole story here.

As you can see he looks a happy man! This was Tims first ever Salmon on his first ever day of Spey Casting and his first ever day of Salmon fishing! Tim is back with another of my regular guests Tony Kaye later this year for some casting practice, then 3 days on the rivers before finally finishing off with a Westcountry Grand Slam .... that's a Trout, Bass and Sea Trout ... all in one day.

Have a good start to the week, it has been a wet winter but the rivers should be in great condition and the season will soon be here.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Roll Casting Video

I thought I would add a video today of a guest performing a roll cast. We were out practicing this during March 2007, not the most pleasant weather conditions but certainly the best time to be practicing casting in readiness for the new season. Check out my half price winter deal options here, the perfect excuse to enjoy a pre-season casting tune up!

There are a few basic elements to the Roll Cast but essentially ensure that a D loop forms behind the rod prior to the forward stroke. This is not the best quality video you will ever see but it certainly demonstrates a well executed Roll Cast. I will aim to add several videos throughout the coming year but for now you can find a lot of casting and fishing information in my book, The Essential Guide to Fly Fishing. I put this 64 page publication together in 2006 and it is illustrated throughout with Henry Gilbeys colour photographs.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Special Fish ...

Good to see the rain has stopped ... for a while anyway! We have good weather here and very little wind, top fishing conditions for Trout at this time of year. Check out the fishery pages and come and have a day with us at Exe Valley Fishery This is Exe Valley at 12.16pm today.

Anyway, moving on to one of my fish of 2007, an elusive Sea Trout. This species is without doubt one of my favourites and in fact I spent several months of my life guiding for them in Argentina at Bella Vista Lodge in Rio Gallegos. What an unbelievable setting and for fish that often average double figures. In fact during my time there we guided fish to well over 20lbs. Interestingly the Argentinian fish are pursued during daylight hours and in fact fishing into the dark is illegal. I have often wondered why these fish still take when over here we are all night fishing crazy. Answers on a postcard please!

It was 10th June 2006 and I arrived at my stretch of the River Mole in North Devon confident that the conditions were perfect for sea trout. Mild, overcast and calm. Pulling on my waders I was aware of a distant hum of cars which grew louder as the other 2 syndicate rods had also turned up for a session! Graciously they gave way and headed off to another beat leaving me with Island pool all to myself. I love to arrive early, sit by the water, relax and listen. There is something incredible about night fishing that I cannot put into words ... you should try it and find out. Shortly after 11pm I was confident that things were just so and so entered the top of the pool to warm up my casting so that as I reached the hot spots the Speys would be in full swing.

On just my second cast the tranquility was shattered as in an explosive display of displeasure a fresh run Sea Trout took to the air in the hope of shedding my fly. As with most Sea Trout battles at night, it was a short lived but highly charged affair. These big fish know all the moves and often try sticking you in hidden roots within the river bank, so it is a case of hook and hold! That said sometimes it is near impossible and when a Sea Trout gets going it doesn't half rip! Another Sea Trout of around 2lb followed this fish a while later but at 7lb 10oz this was one of my top 2007 moments and I still close my eyes and think about it now. Roll on June!!!

Friday, 11 January 2008

And now the weather ...

Are you getting bored with the forecast?! Give us a break, January is bad enough as it is, waiting for the weeks to go by until the new season. Although .... I will definitely be after a Pike sometime soon which provide superb winter fly fishing opportunities.

Lets be positive anyway, summer is on the way! Jon Hettle completed his June session with this lovely Grayling taken on an upstream dry fly. This species is now abundant in the Exe and I spend many days of the year guiding my guests in search of these quite stunning fish. Check out Henry Gilbeys site for some breathtaking Trout and Grayling action, much of which came from the Exe just a few minutes from where I type at this very moment. That said, even I don't fancy being up to my nipples in the raging torrent out there at present, Hardy EWS Waders to protect me or not!

More summer 2007 memories soon plus one of my top 3 most memorable fish of the year and this time I caught it!

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Casting Practice

I was out on my first tuition job of the year today looking after Michael Archer. Seriously nice guy who came to me for some assistance with his casting in readiness for a trip to Mexico in February. We worked on his double haul, a great technique for creating high line speeds and accurate casts.

Meanwhile Mike picked my brains regarding Bonefish and Tarpon, plus Permit. I have hooked all the previously mentioned species but have yet to actually land a Tarpon having jumped several and played them for considerable time! Bones, had plenty, Permit ... I almost weep when I remember the double figure fish I lost in the Bahamas in June 2006. One day I will get back there and put the record straight.

Browsing our tackleshop Mike picked up some of these great Greys Guide Trousers which I wear myself regularly plus of course the all important Buff. He has also purchased Maui Jims from us before, the best fishing Polaroids there are. His wife should be pleased as he added a set for her to his shopping list! Hopefully Mike will be out in the garden practicing all he learned tomorrow ...

Continuing the 2007 review here is Jon Hettle on day 2 of his June visit with a simply awesome Clatworthy Rainbow. Taken on a dry I still have "STRIKE" ringing in my ears when I alerted him to the fact that a fish had just snaffled his Hopper!

Monday, 7 January 2008

A week goes by!

Can you believe it, a week has gone by already! Apparently today is the busiest day of the year for holiday bookings! I can well believe that as my phone has not stopped all day. People have been calling me up to set up fly fishing courses and guided days. What better way to forget the cold greys skies and rain than to dream of June and of course ... FISH!

Just because I love her wellies, here is a lady I taught in June last year. Fly Fishing is such a universal sport, I have got chatting to people in airports just because they have noticed I have a rod tube with me. But better than that, everyone can have a go and we are definitely seeing more ladies taking part.

Next up is Jon Hettle. A very regular guest who visited for 3 days in June and took some cracking fish. First up was a session on the Exe, part of the Dulverton Angling Association water. Casting upstream with a dry fly we enjoyed a spellbinding session of around 15 minutes when 3 better than average Wild Browns pounced on Jon's dry Mayfly imitation. Check this one out below and see tomorrow for more from Jon's trip.

Me I am off home for dinner and to think about a holiday!!! My summers are spent guiding of course but come the winter I will be heading off for Cuba with Aardvark McLeod. Look at this, rod in hand, big blue sky and a Bonefish heading for the horizon .... drooling yet? This is a hosted trip, so why not join me?

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Quick Start to 2008!

Sitting down to write the blog is something I really look forward to, a great discipline and yet I have already missed a couple of days of the New Year. No wonder, 2008 has got off to a flyer. First of all I enjoyed a superb session with Henry here at Exe Valley collecting myself this cracking Rainbow on the way. This fish will feature in the March issue of Trout Fisherman mag and if you check here you will see this months front cover featuring a stunning Rainbow I caught during a day at Valley Springs.

Next up John Wolstenhome flew down from Alnwick to catch up with Henry and I regarding new product for the coming 2008 season. Wow! The amazing GTec range has been added to, check them out. Most exciting of all .. the Hardy Demon Fly Reel has arrived. This reel will change the way we perceive cartridge reels forever ... it is simply fantastic! Then there are additions to the awesome Streamflex range, some brilliant Hardy technical clothing and Fishpond also have some fantastic products including this ladies fly fishing vest.

Continuing my season review, here is a notable moment from May 2007. See the 2007 blog link for Jan to April 2007. This fish was caught by Patrick Totty from London. After a heavy session on the beer at Woods restaurant (if you haven't tried Woods yet you must!) he was feeling a little worse for wear. In a flat calm this 3 1/2 pound beauty soon sorted the hangover after sipping down a small dry. Note the rod is a Greys GTec!

If you struggle fishing dry flies or would like to take a more imitative approach I can help you! Check out my website for further details regarding my tailored fly fishing courses.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008


Just a quick entry today as it has been a busy week, already and it is only the 2nd Jan! Henry and I were out on Exe Valley today and it was FREEZING! I don't mind the cold and have the gear to cope with it ... but I must admit to feeling just ever so slightly bonkers today! But ... we caught some crackers and that made it all worth while. I will load up an image or two soon and look out in early Feb for the full article in Trout Fisherman magazine.

I forgot to put mine on today and regretted it. What am I on about!? Buffs. Buffs? What the hell are they? THE modern answer to a technical scarf come neck warmer that no angler should be without. Even better they are available for all weather conditions. I am loading the polar range to our site and will make live when sorted ... but for the moment check these out and remember the logo ... it was on my mind all day! (rubbed in by the fact that Henry was wearing his!) More 2007 review tomorrow.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

2008 Hardy Limited Edition Watch by Nite

Happy New Year! To celebrate the start of 2008 check out this awesome limited edition watch produced for Hardy by Nite International based on the classic Hardy Marquis Reel. The specification and purchase details appear below. Needless to say there is a limited run of 500 watches and they are selling fast!

Hart Flyshop have serial numbers 493, 494, 495, 496, 497 and 498. 498 has sold but if you would like one of the others be sure to email me via the shop web site or give me a call on 01398 323 008. Each watch retails at £200.00 and will be available to wear (or lock up safely!) in March 2008.

Additionally I will make the watches available for sale on the website in a few days time. I have not had time today as it has been busy in the shop. Great to see plenty of new years day anglers (some nursing hangovers!) out on the lake and catching well. Tomorrow I will meet up with Henry Gilbey to put together a small still water feature for Troutfisherman magazine, we are fishing none other than Exe Valley Fishery! Have a great day and read more about this very special limited edition watch below. Once again ... HAPPY NEW YEAR and may this season be the best ever!!!

The image above shows the watches illumination during darkness.

Product specifications.

Hardy Marquis Limited Edition Nite SX10.

A limited production of 500 timepieces celebrating the Hardy Marquis brand.






56 grams


Black (Marquis Reel)


K1 hardened mineral


Swiss-made, Swiss-parts Ronda 715.6


395 (48 months)


Waterproof black leather with brushed stainless steel buckle

Water resistance




On Sale date

March 2008

Nite watches – GTLS dial illumination system.

The Hardy Marquis Limited Edition features a rare dial illumination system known as GTLS (Gaseous Tritium Light Source). These minute glass vials are filled with the gas tritium and internally coated with phosphor. As the gas decays the electrons emitted excite the phosphor to create a continuous light that is entirely self-powered and up to 100 times brighter than the luminous paint traditionally used on watch hands.

By positioning a GTLS on each watch hand and at every hour marking the result is a watch that can be read in low and zero light conditions without pressing buttons or draining the watch battery. This system enables precision time reading under any condition, in low or zero light. Under normal circumstances the illumination will last for a minimum of 10 years and usually for as long as 20 years, never needing to be charged by daylight or other external energy sources.

What are the benefits of GTLS illumination?

The Nite dial illumination system offers many benefits

  • Clear watch visibility in any light condition, including complete darkness.
  • Hands-free dial illumination – ideal whilst fishing, etc.
  • Does not require the watch battery to work – eliminating battery drain.
  • Does not require charging by sunlight meaning the level of glow is completely unaffected by adverse weather conditions.
  • Entirely self powered resulting in maximum reliability.
  • The enjoyment of owning a watch with technically innovative features.