Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Fly Fishing versus THE FLU!

Allowing Parisian outfit Accent Mix by Vmix FM to pump electronica through my eardrums (at quite a high volume) is probably not the best cure for the Flu. But its more enjoyable than Nurofen. So while melodic tunes course through the office what else can I do to help cure this quite pointless illness?

A trip to the cinema last night to enjoy the Fly Fishing Film Festival may have helped, but its that time of year when the phone rings constantly and the web orders spike as gifts are stockpiled for more than a few lucky anglers. So work had to come first and unfortunately the same has to go for the Itchen trip I had been invited to attend later this week. Two kicks in the butt and then my missus gives me flu, thanks sweetheart!

Nick who organised the film festival event playing out of the Exeter Vue Cinema on 24/11/09 was on the phone earlier today I understand (I was blowing my nose at the time!) and I am sure the evening was a massive success. This review regarding the London showing earlier in the year by Charles Rangeley-Wilson certainly seems very favourable.

A quick break to tap out a blog is definitely helping my flu head and I always enjoy a bit of Twitter in between booking in courses or chatting about the latest in fishing tackle. My new iPhone is here to help with that (how did I live without the calender???) but right now I don't really want to go near the touch screen. I doubt you need the gory details! So gadgets are out too ... (is the iPhone guaranteed against snot!?)

So when I am feeling like life has just given me a kick in the arse there is no better thing to do than think about a particular fishing day or perhaps a fish? So right now I am thinking about this ....

Do reservoir Rainbows get much better? This fish taken on Farmoor last year was just one of an epic haul that James Warbrick-Smith and I enjoyed. I am feeling better already as I begin plotting a new Farmoor trip to make up for the Itchen, the need for overtime and my snotty iPhone!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Pretty Fly Weekend

There is a huge amount going for fishing in general these days and blogs, social networks and forums are all doing their bit to help. I rarely if ever post on forums but now and again I stumble across a thread that is running close to all out war as yet another piscatorial warrior has their say.

I guess that the web allows for this and fair enough, freedom of speech is important. However, I can't help but think that plenty of these unseen wannabe journalists seem to be forgetting that the subject they are discussing is supposed to be .... FUN. Take this weekend for example, to celebrate my 35th birthday I headed off with my better half in the Rado. That was fun, until we hit the M5 and one of the worst rain storms for years hit the South West. But undeterred we continued towards our destination, The Bull Hotel in Fairford, Gloucester.

Upon arrival we met up with a great bunch of people who had also descended on the hotel in pursuit of fun. This was soon forthcoming in the form of many pints of bitter, which was not only fun but helped me to forget the previous few hours dodging articulated lorries, excess surface water and a number of collisions! Sat in the toasty warm lounge laughter ensued as we prepared ourselves for a couple of days on the River Coln. The forecasts were not looking good but it is amazing what a few pints does for the confidence!

We awoke to blue skies and sun, the 3B bitter had worked! Full English down and it was off to the river. This is where the fun really began as we realised that our general attire would probably not go down well with the type of traditional angler who seems to think fishing is about "the proper way to do things" rather than "fun". Take a look.

Above: Fly fishing newbie Loz, fast becoming fly fishing junkie. Baseball cap, shades, a pair of fake breasts and rod over the shoulder ... on a chalkstream ... in England? My god, what next, a nymph on the end of the leader?

Loz again, striking a pose. Could we see NDubz out on the bank soon?

Above: Dave demonstrates how to hold the rod when the fish needs two hands.

Paul and the hip flask, possibly the most traditional part of the day .... and a lot of fun. Note the current rod over the shoulder look.

I am a fan of indicator fishing, in fact I love it. If its good enough for the guides in Montana than its good enough for me. Here I am covertly carrying Strike Out yarn. Possibly the look of 2010?

And if that doesn't work, hide it under a Buff.

Above: In between the childish giggling and gangsta fly fishing imagery we did find some time to wet a line. And it was damn tough! The water was coloured due to heavy rainfall and at times we were lashed by gales, but we stuck in a full day session and some Grayling did succumb. Here is the best fish of the trip to Daves rod. A very special specimen as it is his first ever Grayling.

It had been a wet, fairly unproductive weekend of fly fishing. In fact I reckon I have caught more Grayling in 5 minutes on a Southern Chalkstream than I did during the entire weekend. But the challenging conditions made it all the more rewarding and the thought of a warm fire and a decent pint waiting for us back at the hotel provided yet more inspiration. Overall though it cemented in my mind that fishing is what we make of it and above all, it must be fun. Thanks guys for a great weekend!

Monday, 9 November 2009

New Generation Fly Fishers

Just recently I read somewhere, in a fishing magazine, that there are 3 types of British fly anglers. The small water fly fishers, who apparently have plenty of money and are usually over 60. Then there are the reservoir anglers ... who are reported to be feeling the full effect of the financial crisis! Really, whys that then? The final group identified are those who compete in competitions. It was suggested that this sector formulate a lot of the new techniques that appear on the scene. I agree in part with the latter statement. As for the rest of it .... rubbish!

So what qualifies me to make this statement. Well, I count myself incredibly fortunate to rub shoulders with anglers from all walks of life on a day to day basis and for what its worth here is how I see the scene today.

1) There is a whole new generation of fly angler out there emerging. There is no doubt about it. I see them on courses, we see them at the fishery and look at websites like this. Young people getting off on fly fishing.

Above: The right side of 30 years old, James Groombridge loves fly fishing. Pictured here with a Grayling he extracted from the Exe this summer.

2) I think small stillwaters are great. A brilliant training ground, a kind of fly fishing equivalent of the golfers driving range, but let us face facts, this is scratching the surface of what may lay ahead. Within hours of learning to cast, many of my guests are quizzing me on Wild Trout Rivers, Bass, Pike and even the Tropics. We live in a world of information and times have changed. Marketing has created a fly fishing lifestyle that many wish to plug into and sorry, there is no offence intended here, but they are not all OAPs!

Above: If you are fed up with Trout then cast your fly at a Pike, or maybe a Mullet, or a Grayling, or a Bass, or a Chub, or a .... you get the picture!

3) Opinions are changing. We live in a far more liberal society these days and this even effects fly fishing. Gone are the days of Tweed. The famous material and those who fished in it (poor souls!) will never be forgotten as an important part of our history but nowadays fly anglers have learned that light breathable fabrics are far superior while the appearance of baseball caps, shades and even the odd hoody (god forbid!) has given fly fishing a whole new image.

Above: This is Fly has turned the perception of fly fishing on its head. Look really hard, and you will even find a full on rap tune and video dedicated to fishing (with some skate boarding mixed in for good measure) within its many varied and imaginative pages. Click here to see that video, pick Issue 5, page 37.

4) Tactics have changed too. Some may not like indicators. Simple, don't use them. Others hate Blobs or even fast sinking lines. Fine, don't use those either. But surely we should not try to put a stop to this progress? After all if the thought of watching what is effectively a float with a fly suspended below attracts a young kid with a coarse fishing background into fly fishing should we not rejoice? And why the barriers anyway? Increasingly I speak with anglers who are into all manner of fishing disciplines which has got to be good for the image of the sport as a whole.

Above: Love or hate them, indicators are here to stay. You can buy yours here

5) There is more great value fishing available than ever before. The Dulverton Angling Association is a great example and if Wild Trout don't do it for you then how about an adventurous day chasing Pike, the permits are often ridiculously cheap. But lets hark back to the small stillwaters too. At this time of year these venues offer some great sport, often located not far from our homes or place of work. Here at Exe Valley our high rate ticket is £25 for 5 fish. £5 per fish and a great day out! What was once perceived as an elitist sport for the rich has now become very affordable.

Above: Iain Barr is in his 30s. He goes fly fishing and has got quite good at it, becoming World Champion in 2009. Here he is pictured with his personal best Rainbow Trout weighing in at 14lb 9oz Can you think of a better way to part with twenty five quid?

I could go on but to sum up with a brand new year just around the corner I for one am very excited at the great atmosphere I feel around fishing in general right now .... even though I am 35 later this week! Best of all, I have a whole weekend of fly fishing to look forward to, a trip up the M5 in the Rado and Hardy Demons have just gone 4 piece.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

River Anton Grayling

This is a busy time of year as we ready the shop for Christmas and these days the fishery also sees an influx of anglers who have learned that the cooler months often offer the best sport. Traditionally this is also a period when guests book in to start a winter course of casting, pepping up their game in readiness for the new season. And of course there are also Grayling.

Just last week I was out with Paul, Phil and Damian who enjoyed there first ever Grayling day on a chalkstream. The Anton was the venue of choice and here are a few memories from the session.

Paul's first ever chalkstream Grayling. The smile says it all!

Having settled Paul and Damian into the swing of things I set off up river to find Phil. When I found him he reported 6 fish to his rod already! We found a pod of Grayling together and I began working on them with Phil, watching his leader for any signs of movement. This was a technique that Phil had not used before but he soon mastered it and extracted several more fish including this pretty specimen above. And just look at the vegetation all around. This is a very well kept chalkstream but has the feeling of being wild, in many ways preferable to over manicured beats. Phil also hooked a sizable out of season Brown which snatched the fly away from our intended Grayling, tore all around the pool, jumped and spat the hook! Great sport and great weather, shirt sleeves in October ... can't be bad!

The Anton
- well kept, not over manicured and stuffed with Grayling!

What a lunch! Paul turned up with an incredible spread consisting of Hunters Sandwiches, Pasties and a stunning Bakewell Tart. All topped of with some decent Ale! The Anton is home to several fishing huts that proved to be the ideal venue for this bank side banquet.

Team Grayling. Waders on, pasties and beer in hand ... rods at the ready and a whole afternoon of River Anton Grayling to enjoy. Does life get much better?

Post lunch bonanza. Phil adds to his tally as the ladies of the stream continue to find his charm irresistible!

Damian with his best fish of the day and what a run around it gave us. Three times it almost took but then refused a dry. A nymph got eaten, but rejected before Damian could react and then many casts and changes later we got it all right. The fish actually accepting the original nymph once more! There is little that compares to such visual fishing and Grayling unlike Trout give anglers plenty of chance to tempt them.

Paul with the best fish of the day.

I have many incredible adventures with my guests but some days stand out and this will be one of them. An awesome river, 3 great guys, a top notch lunch and shoals of hungry Grayling. Such events live with me forever and are made all the more memorable when someone takes the time to drop me a line about their experience.

"Thanks for yesterday it was one of the best days fishing I have ever had." Paul Prictor, Swindon 2009

Friday, 6 November 2009

I can see Grayling but not Frogmen

Don't fall in, yes I am posting a 2nd time this month! But I wonder whether I should because I have got top admit to something. I can't see Frogmen.

Take a look at the picture above. The frogman is pretty obvious right? About as obvious as this Pike. Well, I admit, I didn't see him until he was pointed out. Guiding Phil Frapple on beat 4 of the River Anton we had enjoyed some great success throughout the day when towards the back end we neared the section close to Goodworth Clatford. Wide and shallow I fancied that we should leave proclaiming that "this is not the best of the fishing Phil. Look how spooky the Grayling are in the shallow water". To which Phil very calmly replied (as if it were an everyday occurrence) "yes, and the Frogman won't help much either". "Frogman!" I said "What Frogman!?" Trying to hide his look of amazement Phil pointed upstream in exactly the direction I had been looking. In fact I had already spotted the Grayling that I then realised were sat not in front of a log or other obstruction but indeed a Frogman!

Needless to say it was one of the most bizarre experiences of my guiding career and also one of the most amusing. By the end of the day my ability to see fish but not frogmen became hotly debated between Phil and his two mates along for the ride, Paul and Damian. The debate did involve a high degree of taking the piss of course. In all honesty who can blame them!

My excuse was of course that I focus so hard on finding fish that I block out everything else, including Frogmen. The excuse lead to more piss taking. And feel free to take the piss yourselves if you like, I admit that I deserve it! And I should take even more flack because before Phil could get a cast in the Frogman surfaced. I would have loved to have seen our faces at that point!

So who was the Frogman? Well if you have a UK rod licence then you will be aware of this mans work, because once his disguise was removed it revealed top wildlife artist David Miller. See his fantastic work here. David had been baiting Grayling so that he could film them in readiness for future pieces. In all honesty this chance meeting only added to the occasion and on our return to the lower beats yet more Grayling came to the net. Although of course each time I spotted a fish .... I suffered! I don't think I will ever be allowed to forget my lack of observation! More about the River Anton trip soon. And if you fancy a crack at this beat yourself and the opportunity to bend my ear over the frogman, drop me a line for details.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

The Hectic World of Fly Fishing ... usual service resumed!

Whoops .... there went October! One post later its already Guy Fawkes night and after this I guess its downhill towards Christmas. The trouble is these days I am spending less and less time at the computer (actually that's a good thing!) in between guiding and running Hart Flyshop ... so my chances to blog are few and far between. But that is about to change ... all thanks to the iPhone.

I am signed up with the Orange mobile network although I came very close to signing up with O2 during the summer, such was my desire to get my hands on an iPhone. But the O2 signal around here is terrible so I hung on and was very pleased when Orange announced their new deal allowing them to sell the iPhone. I for one cannot wait to get my hands on one ... especially as I know a ton of friends and more than a few guests who own one. Just last week I was growing more envious by the moment during a guided session on the Anton as one of my guests, Damian, showed me the benefits of this incredible gadget. So in 2010 my posts will often be live from the riverbank and judging by some of the great experiences I have enjoyed alongside guests recently this will bring a whole new dimension to the world of Nick Hart Fly Fishing & Hart Flyshop.

Take last week for example with two of my regular guests Tim and Tony. Fishing the River Test during a perfect Autumnal day the duo managed to extract Grayling after Grayling on a mixture of techniques, although sight fished Pink Hares Ears Shrimps did most of the damage. We went for long tapered leaders in the clear water, tipped off with fluorocarbon and it was imperative to lift the nymph in a seductive manner with the help of the rod tip. A straight dead drift resulted in a very few takes. The tackle of choice was a 10'0" Streamflex which makes for excellent control when practicing this technique. Here are a few memories from the day.

The days just got started but already Tim has banked his first Grayling of the day measuring in at 17" This fish required a couple of fly changes and I altered the leader diameter for Tim too, its always satisfying when a change pays off.

All the fish caught during the session were safely returned including this specimen, Tim taking one final chance to display that famous iconic fin.

Tony Kaye gets in on the action too with another pristine chalk stream Grayling. These are never the cheapest venues to fish but look at the clarity of that water in the background. Hard to resist.

There was no stopping Tim, in one hectic 20 minute spell he banked another 6 fish. By lunchtime he was approaching a double figure tally after just a couple of hours of fishing. Numbers don't matter of course, but hit it right and big catches are possible. The Test was rammed full of Grayling and this year the average size is well up on past seasons.

A well earned rest and lunch out of the back of my trusty fishing wagon. This Toyota has done me proud now for 7 seasons! I was going to change it this year and then found my dream Black VR6 Corrado. I hope to get my hands on a G60 in the future to pair up with my 16V and then I have the full set. Oh and by the way many thanks to the Aston Martin and Evo owners I shared some time with during my trip back down the A303 from The Phirm on Monday. I digress .... lunch hit the spot so it was time for some more fishing!

After lunch we ran into someone else looking for a meal. See above. Can you spot it? Answers on a postcard please! And I almost packed the Pike gear!

After a few more River Test Grayling I loaded up the truck and transported Tim and Tony to a stretch of the Anton, a tributary of the Test that joins the main river close by to the Mayfly Inn. Tim was soon aggravating the Anton residents too!

Tony sporting the fashionable one hand Grayling fin up "rod over the shoulder pose", a look finished off with one of our great baseball caps. Get yours here. And this was the deadly fly, Grayling cannot resist them! Buy your Pink Hares Ear Shrimps here.

Tomorrow .... can you spot fish? Then you should be able to spot a frogman!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

The New Season is here

Of course I am being ironic with the title of my post today. The season has sadly closed on many of our West Country Rivers. To this day I still feel that dull feeling sweep over me as the realisation kicks in that summer has gone and the Wild Browns have a 6 month holiday to look forward to. Back when I was a young kid it felt like the end of the world.

Fortunately we now have a season extension on the Exe, Barle and Torridge while the Grayling provide some amazing sport through the winter. Not to mention Pike, let us hope the canals remain clear this year and I have also found a new lake to fish. Further afield there is the Los Roques trip taking place in February 2010 and I also caught up with an old mate a few days ago who has invited me to Florida. It sounds like he has some incredible fishing there in an area infrequently visited by guides and home to plenty of double figure Bones. I love the Keys, so this has to be investigated!

I spent my last official day of the season on the beautiful stretch of the Mole that I guide upon for Salmon and Sea Trout. The weather was beautiful .... but the water low. Aubrey and Kate were hoping for a Salmon (even after their encounter with the King of Tweed the day before) and so we set off in the truck full of hope. Arriving at the river confirmed more than my worse fears, the water appeared lifeless, accept for the constant rises of Trout. However, it was the Salmon we wanted and there just wasn't the flow to provide effective fishing. We had a go in some turbulent areas and were almost about to give up when I spotted a fish, and then another ... and another. 7 in total, all lying in clear water, close to a deeply undercut bank.

For hours Aubrey tried to fool those fish with a huge nymph variant thrown up stream and then lifted in front of the fish. We provoked some response but not a hook up. Unfortunately the fresh fish in the pool would not settle and the specimen we were after (that would have been pushing double figures) looked stale and uninterested. Even so it was hugely entertaining and exciting to watch these fish have the odd glance at our offering, especially when an unseen fish that would have been well into mid doubles shot out from under the ledge and towards our fly!

This "lifted nymph" technique is something that I am going to try much more often in the future as I have been thinking of a number of circumstances in which it will work. So much of our fishing can be based around the text book, but it never hurts to think out of the box. Check out this stunning 12lb Sea Trout for example taken by William Daniel earlier this year while fishing in Iceland. He tempted the fish on a size 16 nymph and landed it on just 6lb leader! Anglers don't come much more enthusiastic than William, who runs a brilliant guiding service on the southern chalk streams, check out Famous Fishing for details.

I have a lot more guiding to look forward to and thank those of you who have written to me during the last few weeks regarding our days spent together fishing. Its great to get your feedback and I look forward to catching up with you all again soon.

1 day novice course

Dear Nick

Thank you on behalf of Bob for a truly fantastic day yesterday. He had a brilliant time and was on a real high when he got back! He was full of praise for your expert tuition.
Best wishes.

Kathy Eldridge

Cornwall, Sept 2009

1 day novice course

Hi Nick,

Thank you for the photo and an excellent days tuition, the whole weekend was perfect.



South East, Sept 2009

1 day guided fly fishing and survey of River on behalf of owner

Thank you so much for such a wonderful day on the Mole last weekend. I’ve never had so much success in a single day but the most important thing I come away with is a new belief… that the river is actually full of fish and that i should expect to catch lots of them! Your guidance on every detail was awesome and i can't wait to get fishing again to apply it all. I realise that it's all for nothing unless I can nail my casting technique and so I look forward to booking in a session on this. Thank you also for all your advice on managing the rights and the banks.

Robin Davies

Southern England, Sept 2009

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The Fly Fishing Jobsworth - Dress Code - Tweed

I am all for tradition. Its our roots after all. Nostalgia and all that. But today I came across the worst sort of tradition. The encounter was with a couple of individuals that (amongst many words a little strong for this blog) I could only come to refer to as a miserablists. I know miserablist is not a word in the dictionary, but it should be, there are too many miserablists around these days.

The first miserablist in question had arrived upon the other bank of the stretch of river we were fishing, obviously hoping to have a cast. But, before we could exchange pleasantries the gentlemen then disappeared inside his fishing hut, reappeared momentarily and then he was gone again. I think he was hiding.

The calm before the storm

Meanwhile a guest who I have been guiding for many years was grinding out cast after cast, hoping for a last minute Salmon. I use the word "hope" because we should always really be "expecting" a fish, but in the current low water, hope is nearer to the truth. Meanwhile my other guest (the daughter of the Salmon angler) was flicking a nice cast upstream, around 50 yards down the pool. The fishing was slow, although the consistent aerobatics of several Salmon waiting for some fresh water maintained our enthusiasm. Everything was peaceful although we were all wondering what the stranger hidden in the hut was up to. We did not need to wait long to find out.

There was a commotion and a man burst from the woods. The angler in hiding appeared and exchanged a few words with the man, there was some general nodding (in our direction) and then the man from the woods set off towards us. Clad from head to toe in Tweed, sporting a tie and a flat cap we could tell from his body language that he was not about to enquire if we were having any success.

No good afternoon either. Instead there followed a barrage of "rules" and "in all the 70 years that I have been fishing", topped off with "what do you expect, your wearing a baseball cap and shades!?" In essence we were made to feel that somehow we were not quite adequate. I guess that Tweed blokes plummy accent and the arrival of an interpreter in the form of a lady with an equally plummy accent did not help. Over his bellowing I doubt he could hear anything which his interpreter or I were saying. Or perhaps he just didn't want to hear. He was after all a miserablist himself. My guests found it highly amusing and we dined out on it for the remainder of the afternoon. The fishing being slow it did make for some excitement.

But this encounter left a sour taste in my mouth, not only because I pay good money to lease the beat but more importantly because there is no room for this kind of behaviour. It does fly fishing no favours. I am not saying for one moment that those who wear Tweed all behave in such an ill mannered or ill tempered way and of course I understand that the sport that I make my living is steeped in tradition. However the kind of jobsworth I had the displeasure of meeting this afternoon personifies an element of fly fishing tradition that I hope disappears sooner rather than later.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Crossing the borders of Fly Fishing

When I first started out with this blog I frequently posted pictures of our guests with their catches, from the lake here at Exe Valley. One such angler is Lester Beckett seen here with his first ever Rainbow Trout taken on a fly. A Buzzer of course! However as the shop has become busier and busier, my chances to size pictures in photoshop and load them up here have reduced drastically. However Lester got me thinking because although he has only just cast a fly in anger for the first time yesterday he was already keen to see what opportunities lay before him, other than stillwater Trout. This is a recurring theme that I have noticed more and more during the last couple of years as the diversity of fly fishing continues to expand.

Lester comes from Zimbabwe and so the air was soon filled with talk concerning the possibility of Tiger fish on fly. However he would have to try that the next time he visits, as Lester currently resides in the UK. I therefore suggested that Pike or maybe even Zander gave the best opportunity of something toothy to target. But to tackle these fish requires some hefty gear and plenty of line speed so my advice was to practice hard and build a seriously good set of foundation casts before moving into the realms of double haul and other advanced techniques required for distance casts with large flies. It is great to have a goal but I have witnessed many fly anglers attempting to run before they can walk which results in nothing more than frustration and sometimes anger. Whats the point in that, fishing is after all supposed to be fun?

However, there are plenty of fish that Lester can tackle before he becomes a familiar face on his local canal. One such fish is the Grayling. In just a couple of weeks hordes of fly fishers will head to their favourite haunts in search of this beautiful species which appear frequently in our guests catches. See here for some recent Grayling captures. I have several dates booked to guide the species but I have to say more than any other this is a fish that I try to fish for myself as regularly as possible, the winter season providing me with a little extra time to enjoy a few days. So far I am looking forward to a weekend on the Coln and some days on the Itchen & Test.

I look forward to those days but at present all eyes are on the Salmon. I have guests here this week to fish for them and although the water is now low on the Exe, we have had a release of water from Wimbleball Lake that has definitely stirred the fish up. And if the Exe does not produce then I also have the Mole and the Torridge which of course will have a few straggler Sea Trout running them too. The Exe and The Torridge both benefit from season extensions so if we get some rain then good sport can be had as I found out last season, capturing this fish just the before the extension expired.

A winter season enjoying some Grayling (and of course the pike) is an exciting prospect in itself but I must admit that my latest obsession comes in the form of 4 wheels. As many of you who have spent time fishing with me over the years will know I am more than just a little bit of a petrol head. My own weakness being VWs and in particular the Corrado. After 6 years of waiting the right one finally turned up in the form of this Black VR6, finished in Black leather. I came across the car quite by chance while looking for a new truck and still pinch myself regarding how lucky I have been.

It turns out the car had previously belonged to an enthusiast who had spent thousands adding a Quaife differential (could be good for a turbo then) and a quick shift in the process, not to mention a Magnex Exhaust, Koni Filters, GMax suspension kit (this thing rides low!) and all finished off with diamond cut Speedline rims. Putting damn near 3 litres of engine in a coupe like this equals serious fun, close to 200 bhp when standard. But of course, I won't be able to leave it at that.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Fly Fishing for Bass - An enquiry from abroad

This morning I had an interesting enquiry from Dimitris Adamopoulos who is keen to target Saltwater species such as Bass on fly but also Barracuda. Here is what he had to say:

Nick, I just checked your blog and I saw that you are a fly fishing guide so i just wanted to ask you about the setup which would me the best for me. As you see in the attachment I will fly fish in the sea for sea bass and small barracudas. Could you tell me about what backing, lines (#8) , leaders and tippets are the most appropriate for those setups? The flies I am going to use is on 2 and 2/0 hooks. Should I use sinking lines or sink tip ones? Thanks for your help! Best Regards, Dimitris Adamopoulos

And he even included a diagram!

Dimitris has been discussing the option of a Greys X Flite, an OK rod but in my opinion for the kind of cash a Greys Platinum XD Saltwater would set him back it is well worth the little extra. I have used this model all over the world and have nothing but praise for it. Chasing up the rear as a budget saltwater fly rod is the Vision GT Saltwater Dimitris is also keen on the Lamson Litespeed, a reel that I have in my own collection and a product that can be relied upon, the drag systems just do not fail or lose their bite. However Litespeeds don't come cheap so other options would include the very popular Lamson Konic or the sexy Loop Multi. In all honesty though most of the smaller Bass and even Cuda don't merit a top notch drag. In which case a Vision Koma is hard to beat. As with any gear you use in the salt wash it well in fresh water after every session and keep it greased. One word of warning, don't use a shower head to rinse down. I have learned the hard way that this actually forces salt into the mechanisms.

OK so that's the main gear but we now need to take a look at fly lines. This is a huge subject and one which I could tackle I guess, blog post by blog post, but lets try and be brief now. If fishing in hot climates/warm water conditions, a fly line with a coating designed to tackle such conditions is required. Otherwise go for the cool water products, which means that even standard Trout lines will suffice. Ensure lines match the rod and select a weight forward profile or similar (rocket taper, triangle taper etc) although shooting heads are also worth a look.

Dimitris also enquires about what density of fly line he should use. Well, like all fishing this really depends on species, weather conditions etc. But as a general rule a floating line will be great for Bass, especially when fish can be seen busting at the surface (look for gull activity). Poppers are an ideal artificial to use with a floating line to cause a disturbance although I also like to fish this pattern fast on an Intermediate. They splutter, then dive in a very enticing fashion, spewing bubbles as they go. Bass and Cuda are great fun but Mackeral also offer the prospect of exciting sport and maybe even some small Tuna such as Bonito. Tackle these with a fast sinker, the Depth Finder 500 series by Airflo is spot on. On the subject of backing, 20lb to 30lb is fine and try to get 150 yards to 200 yards on the spool, just in case something very big is encountered. You never know what might take hold in the salt ... even a Great White Shark perhaps, see here!!!

The leader used to catch Bass will be the same as for Cuda, although Cudas are toothy predators that will need the addition of a wire trace to save bite offs. There are a ton of great products out there although I am particularly keen on the Dyneema cored Armour Leader by Pro Leader. This stuff is just so easy to knot. Double grinner 12" of this on to an 8' length of fluorocarbon and go fishing! Not on our website at present but we do stock it here at the shop. Also great for Pike.

Quite by chance I am off to Crete soon with the family and will definitely be sneaking out a rod so perhaps I maybe hooking a few Greek saltwater species of my own!

Monday, 21 September 2009

New Wychwood Competition Fly Box

For the last year or so I have been using the great range of Wychwood Vuefinder fly boxes and many of my guests have been converted too. These brilliant products come with a range of inserts (although the slot foam is my own favourite), tough clips and a waterproof seal.

The Vuefinder is finished off with a see through lid which gives the box its name. Of course it is great to be able to look through at all that lovely fluff but far more practical is the ability to pick the deadly pattern you need, prior to opening. Very handy in the rain.

During the last year I have been using the the two sizes available for both stillwater and river fishing and have nothing but praise for them. The boxes are tough, they float (which is handy because I drop my frequently!) and fit easily into my fly pack. See here for the original Vuefinders.

But, now there is an all new addition to the range, a Big Daddy of a Vuefinder. This is the Wychwood Competition box that will store up to 1000 flies!

Think of the enjoyable evenings ahead spent by the fire stocking up your mother ship box, ready for the new season. And if your a competition angler there is an ingenious design element that has been incorporated into the reliable locking clip. A competition hook & fly gauge. In a word .... outstanding!

If you would like to be one of the first to get your hands on one of these brilliant boxes that retail for just £29.99, and take advantage of our 10% off launch deal, please see here Wychwood Competition Box

Writing this at 7.45pm and its almost dark outside, can't believe it! Oh well, lets hope we get a late spate and a few Salmon to ease the pain of the long winters nights. Although Eumer tube has me looking forward very much to a rekindled desire for fly tying, especially once our house is extended and at last I will have my own fishing den again. Cool.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Autumn Fly Fishing Tactics

Brrrr ... its cold for the time of year. Fleeces at the ready, the unseasonable cold snap does not mean we have to forget the fishing! However, it maybe that the fish are not looking up so why try this? Then they (or we) get the best of both worlds.

Some people love the New Zealand dropper, others feel that it gives an angler too much of an advantage. My own opinion is that it presents a fly very realistically and that is what fly fishing is all about! This illustration is just one of many others produced for me by Andy Steer, a very talented illustrator based in the Netherlands. Very soon I will post news here of the 2nd edition of my book which is about to be finalised with the printers and contains many more of Andy's brilliant illustrations. The guy can fish too ... check this Chum Salmon.

I can't mention my book without mentioning Henry Gilbey. Henry supplied all the photographs and has just returned from an outrageous trip to Mongolia! Find out more here. On that note Henry travelled with Aardvark McLeod. These people are International Fishing Specialists and I have been privileged to host a couple of trips on their behalf. In 2010 I am heading up another trip for them to Los Roques. See how our last trip went here and if you would like more details drop me a line with your address and we will mail out both an itinerary and a brochure.

Have a great weekend ... try the New Zealand dropper!

Monday, 14 September 2009

More Big Grayling

What a glorious weekend! Finally the sun has been shining, the skies were blue and best of all the fish were really switched on. My Saturday rod was Brian Frost who has been fly fishing for well over 20 years, but always on still waters. So his son decided to do something about this and purchased a Guided Fly Fishing session on a river.

We spent a half hour tuning up casting on the side of the lake, mainly discussing the requirement for a smooth stop. Brian had got used to forcing the rod when making his final presentation. But this experienced angler learned fast and soon we were stepping out on to the River Exe.

The day could not have gone better. Flies were hatching, the Trout were popping and best of all very willing to take a well presented artificial. We fished a short morning session, breaking for an early lunch as I am finding the fish are really switching on at about 1.00pm to 3.30pm, then things virtually switch off. The cooling autumnal breeze makes sure of that.

Brian's best fish of the day is shown here, another stunning Exe Grayling. Of course plenty of Wild Browns showed too although the only mishap of the day was a rather large specimen that took Brian by surprise, powered downstream and slipped the hook. The Grayling pictured was interesting. Just 20 minutes previously we had picked up another, smaller fish. After fishing for it over a 20 minute period we witnessed it move to a couple of small dry patterns but not take them. We tried a nymph or two, no good. Then back to the midge and once again it looked. So I then decided that we should throw it a real gob full and asked Brian to cast a Stimulator at it. First chuck, up it came and woofed it! This was Brian's first Grayling on his first ever river session so you can imagine his delight. Moving to the next pool we spotted the Grayling pictured skulking on the bottom. Dries had no effect, but an X Factor nymph was snapped up on the first presentation. The point here; it pays to be adaptable. Just because one method worked on a fish, does not mean it will on another and this is particularly the case when river fishing.

I am also enjoying the fact that this year we have broken away from the Klinkhammer and started alternating patterns, the Balloon Caddis and Stimlator have become particular favourites. The X Factor nymph is also going to feature regularly in catches during the winter Grayling season.