Sunday, 19 February 2017

Calls of Nature

I decided no matter what I needed to get out onto the river today, no matter what the weather conditions.
My knee is still sore & swollen so opted for an easy walk stretch to fish but wanted to nip to another stretch just for a look at something from last year I had forgotten about and needed to collect, I arrived at the non fishing stretch just before 10am and headed downstream to where I wanted to go, on route passing the snowdrops which are now in full bloom all along the river.

The river looked in fine fettle but there was a very strong downstream wind which was biting cold.

I found and retrieved what I was looking for, something I wanted for a project in the summer but needed to collect now before the leaves come back onto the trees & bushes

Walking back along the riverside path I caught glimpse of a wood pecker before it disappeared from view but I guess that answered who lives in a hole like this.

Driving back the short distance to my chosen stretch just after 11am I wandered the short distance to the river and the wind was still biting cold so I knew it was going to be a day of fighting that and trying to find spots with a bit of shelter out the wind. The river was clear and up on its normal levels, it looked pristine fishing conditions all be it the wind was dampening things.

Walking along the high bank the gorse was in full bloom, I headed further along the bank and dropped down out of the biting wind, as soon as you were out the wind it was a glorious day, I sat and watched LDO hatching off the water in the morning sun where the water was sheltered. a couple of kingfishers were darting up and down the river and across in the field opposite a couple of Hares were facing up to each other, by the look of things mother nature was well under way making her changes for the spring.

First couple of casts in the faster streams produced a few nips from smaller fish and then I managed to just hook then loose a fish almost immediately as it took the fly as I was drawing it back to recast. 
Another couple of casts and a small grayling came to hand.

The next few casts produced another Grayling of similar size before all went quiet and I headed upstream.

As I came through the small copse of willow I could see a couple of Oyster catchers on the Gravel bank next to a goose thats been on the stretch for about 3 months now but cant fly due to wing damage, I managed to get to a place where I could take a semi decent picture without disturbing them.

Walking upstream into the biting wind again certainly woke you up and reminded me it was still February.

I never touched a fish at all in the stretch where the wind was blowing downstream and it was only once I was in the shelter of the big fir wood that I saw fish movements again.

Casting to where I seen a swirl I hooked into an angry trout almost immediately and with a few flicks of its tail it came right out the water and slipped the hook all I saw was the bow wave in its wake as it headed across the shallow water downstream.

I noticed as I trekked back downstream that the pussy willow are budding, a bit of colour appearing on bare branches, It wont be long until they have broken clean out of their bud cases and further along the bank the wax caps are taking advantage of the one of the logs.

I fished on for another hour but nothing more came to the flies so decided to call it a day as my knee was throbbing and the wading in the cold water wasnt improving anything.

One snowdrop that captured my attention today, purely for the size of the flower. Two single blooms in the middle of nowhere and the flowers were twice if not three times as big as any others I saw during the day.

It certainly was nice to be back out after a few weeks off but I think with the way my knee is and the Grayling season almost over that I might resign myself to calling it a day for the Grayling for this year as they are starting to think about other things, It was the 19th February last year that I stopped after seeing Black Grayling & in 2015 it was 28th February so we are definitely in that period of time and with it being a mild winter and spring happening that few weeks in advance its best to play safe & leave them be, am not the sort of angler who can see the signs but resigns themselves to continue fishing and call it sport.

I've had a fair to good Grayling season this year and stuck with the fly rod for the full duration, not once did any trotting get done, but who knows I may trot a few small red worms in the early days of the trout season until it warms up a bit.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Jinglers all the Way

Not being a fly angler who takes masses of fly boxes onto the river each time I go out I tend only to take what I think I need to match the hatch for that particular time of year but I always take a few flies I trust each year to get a few fish and one of these patterns has to be the Jingler. 
It has taken for me in the past many a nice fish, a few variations which I tie each year and always work well for me.
With the Trout season fast approaching I decided to make a start on a few of the Jingler patterns I like to have in the box.

 Crimson body Jingler

  Tan body Jingler

Olive body Jingler

Wont be long till one of these are tied onto the tippet and casting upstream to a rising trout.  

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Almost Over

No fishing again this week, my leg still a bit sore and the river was up and dirty so I couldn't see the point of maybe making things worse in conditions which were already not good.

With the Grayling season almost over, I may get one last days fishing for them as I like to leave the fish alone when I see the first signs of them spawning, Im not an angler who has got to go out and chase fish which are starting to breed just for the sake of a days fishing.

I decided to spend the afternoon pottering around with a few ongoing projects and tied a few nymphs just to see me through the end of the grayling season & into the trout season. I have to say this Grayling season I have stuck with the nymph tactics, and not once trotted a float for a couple of reasons.

I wanted to improve my nymph tactics which I have done and remembering stuff I had forgotten and also learning new tactics & the weather in my opinion has not warranted me to trot my floats.

There is nothing better than a crisp winters morning with snow on the ground and watching a float you have made yourself trot down the stream, but this year it just hasn't happened, the winter we were promised has not materialised, so the split cane trotting rods, centre pins and floats will soon be stored away for another year.

last of the nymphs.

a few different coloured butt black nymphs, these have always worked well for me and almost always taken early season trout when its still a bit cold for the dry flies to hatch.

and first of the dry flies

a couple of grey jingles a very productive fly for me since I first tied them up a couple of years ago, mainly tied in brown I started experimenting and swapped out the brown cock hackle for a badger hackle and combined with the grey body found them to work well instead of  fishing a kites imperial, the partridge hackle adding extra movement to the flies.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

This Weeks Up's & Down's

As regular blog readers will have noticed there was no fishing trip last week, this was due to a slight downward spiral I had last Saturday afternoon when my knee collapsed on me in totally the wrong spot in the house...the top of the stairs, yep head first from the top to the bottom of the stairs ending up on a heap at the front door.

Thankfully I didn't break anything but bruised and in severe pain there was no way I could have got onto the river so Sunday Karen had the pleasure of my company for another full day...lol, as the week has went on Its still painful to walk but nowhere as bad as it was.

That was the down side of the week, thankfully the rest of the week was a bit better and had a few better things to speak of.

With no fishing and restricted to the chair I decided to break out the table lathe and  with some Yew I had lying around in my odds & sods box I turned a display float for something to do, something I haven't done since 2015,  so it was nice to get the chisels back out and give them a dust off which I finished off each night after work with the lacquering.

Turned from a block of Irish Yew and mounted on a Yew Branch with a few wraps of silk to finish it off.

Im undecided where its final resting place will be yet as I have a few people in mind who I might send it to.

Back in September of last year I harvested the sloes off the bushes up the Dale as I always do each year.

It was time to decant the first bottle of 2016 sloe whisky, so earlier today I looked out the earliest of the 6 bottled kilner jars from last year dated the 30 Sep and strained out the sloes.

The finished product which I will saver & enjoy over the upcoming trout season

The other day I came home and was reunited with an old friend.

This is a box I made up for a charity auction, the box & its contents raised £105 for charity, the new owner was a fly fisherman who wanted to try his hand at trotting for Grayling.

3 cork trotting floats

3 balsa trotting floats

It turns out the gentleman in question has never used them as he said they looked too good to use and has never got around to trying his hand at trotting so returned them to me to be used for another auction or charity event of my choosing.
A very generous gesture and Im sure they will finally end up on a river somewhere for someone to enjoy as I had made them for.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

A Lovely Gesture

I have always been a very open amateur float maker and unlike some I will pass on information or tips to anyone who is interested on gaining experience in making their own floats for themselves.

Yesterday I came home from work to find a mysterious package waiting on me. On opening it I found it to be a gorgeous book with an inscription in the front cover. 

This was an unexpected gift from a gentleman who I have been giving advice to about making fishing floats over the internet and who Im now honoured to call a friend although we have never met. 

Im very humbled at receiving such a present from Richard, for simply doing something I enjoy doing which is passing on tips & advice to other amateur float makers or fishermen interested in making their own floats with nothing asked or expected in return, a truly wonderful gesture and something I will cherish.

On a slightly lesser note, I have to say its more than I can say about some people who have suckered me for float making information purely for their own gain & reward to line their own pockets without even as much as a single float in return, that wont be repeated anytime soon that Im positive of!!

Not to end on a sour note

A very generous gift and I've said in my email thank you but this deserves a Blog Thank You.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Watch what you wish for!

Last week I was wishing for rain as the rivers were almost empty, this week quite the opposite after yesterday's rain, the river are all topped up again.

It was touch and go whether I would get out today as my fishable top limit was passed on the river gauge, but seeing as it looked like it was dropping I thought I would give it a go and see how we got on.

I got onto the river just after 9am, as I was walking down to the river it was deadly silent, no geese, no wildlife at all apart from the far off call of a lone curlew.

The river was as expected up and really dirty which wasnt going to help matters any. I started off in some places I often fish when the water is on the high mark but nothing apart from a few stick fish

I can tell you I had some really large stick fish too....

4 hours of fishing hard and changing to various setups didn't prevail and my only reward was a day out on the bank, so not all bad it certainly beats being stuck in the house.

I seen this on the way back to the car and it summed my day up where the fishing was concerned....DEAD!

On the float making front, I managed to get a couple of double swan quills finished off during the last week for a friend.

I showed them to a friend on social media and the reply I got was great works of art as always.....NO NO thats not what I strive for I told him, I like to pay attention to detail such as whipping as some floats I see you could drive a bus through the gaps in the whipping, I believe in paying attention to the small details after creating a float why ruin it with shoddy whipping, As I've said for many years...I dont make floats to be works of art, to look pretty and be hung on a wall in a picture frame, I make them for what they were designed for..........catching fish.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Sling Pack Review

During the summer months I prefer to wear my fishpond vest for easy access and breath-ability with a shirt is important especially if walking miles in search of your prey, they are comfortable and keep your items within easy reach and allow you a certain degree of carry capabilities.

However in winter when I have another 3 layers of warm clothing on they restrict my movement and I feel uncomfortable wearing it and get bored with it after a very short time, and I dont need to carry as much fly fishing items as I would during the summer months so what are the alternatives?

Im not one of these anglers who stop off at a truck stop or shop on route to the river and gorge myself on breakfast, It just doesn't have any appeal to me, Id rather still carry my small flask and a sanny/piece/bait/ lunch whatever you want to call it depending on which part of the country your from, to have halfway through the day.

A bag... too cumbersome and Id be wanting to constantly take it off.

A Rucksack, OK if not fly fishing and constantly needing to change over flies etc.

A chest-pack...too small

A roving belt-pack...have one but tend only to use it in summer when the rivers are low and not much deep wading is required.

so this leaves me with the sling-pack option, I must admit I haven't been that keen on them in the past if I were to be honest but recently after a few conversations with a fly fishing friend I made whilst in Singapore last year I decided to try one he uses.

Like most people I like bargains and what he recommended sounded just the item, as long as it does the job and doesn't fall apart I will give it a go and that's exactly what I did.

Manufactured in china,
(arent most things these days)

Its their version of a sling pack and I have to say I was quite impressed when I received it.

On the front of the pack there are 4 zip pockets placed strategically for easy access, one of which folds out and has a fly pad fixed to it, two fixed zingers, an elasticated front pouch and a slip pouch behind the main pocket.

The rear of the sling has 3 zipped pockets, 2 small ones and a larger full length one which easily accommodates my flask and a lunch with room for a lot more, but the most important factor for me...

Its comfortable 

It doesn't impede my fishing, even when wearing all the extra layers of winter clothing, as you can see from my male catalogue pose below.

The uppermost zip pocket accommodates my sunglasses and my spectacles comfortably, attached to this is one of the 2 fixed zingers which I have my clippers attached to and these slip behind the retaining strap and stop them flapping around.
Inside the larger main pouch there is enough room for my 4 slim nymph boxes, and a  35mm film container which I keep used flies in when I've taken them off the tippet, and enough room for 4 spools of tippet material. Behind the main pouch is a slip pocket where I keep a set of forceps on a zinger, tucked away out the way and my rod holder attached to another zinger for when Im mid stream and need to use both hands.

The smaller front pouch is the drop down fly patch pouch which currently I dont use but have pre tied tippet casts in a wallet stored.

The next pouch around the sling contains my various sighters and indicators, this is where the 2nd fixed zinger is which I dont use.

It really is a comfortable sling to wear and still allows access to my jacket pockets where I keep my camera and car keys

The back pockets sit in the middle of your back and are quite comfortable due to the padding on the inside of the sling and as you can see from the picture it doesn't interfere with my net which I have attached to my jacket by way of a magnet clip, I have this resting where its most comfortable for me but it can be pulled higher up your back should you want to go deeper wading, Im quite happy wading at waist depth and really dont go any deeper.

The sling connector fittings are heavy duty plastic with enough strap length to wrap around you twice! I simply folded them up to the desired length when it was comfortable and taped them down with some black insulation tape, saving them flapping around and keeps the straps from slipping, as you can see in picture 1 & 2.
You only need to unclip the large fastener to get on/off, the 2nd smaller one to the left is purely to keep it tight to your body.

The sling is quite well made and all the stitching is tight and everything works, its logically thought out in the positioning of the pockets, the uppermost fixed zinger is well placed and although I dont use the lower zinger its positioned quite well also with an elasticated retainer for anything that you fit to the zinger.


Comfortable to wear, well though out, build quality is good, it doesn't impede my fishing & its light in design.


They say its fully waterproof, I wouldn't want to put it to the test, Id say its like my fishpond vest & most chest-packs / vests, showerproof but not fully waterproof.

Straps are excessive in length but easily rectified with insulating tape.

Prices vary depending on where you buy it from I've seen them as high as £36 and the lowest I've seen is £25, which is the price I bought mine for from a UK dealer.

I was sent the link to the Chinese manufacturer by my friend in Singapore and they sell them to the trade at $15 and after inquiring with them on postage it was $15 and they said 4 weeks for delivery so that takes it into the region of £25 - £30 with recent conversions against the dollar.

There are a few different companies, persons selling them so shop around before buying. Is it worth the money? I think so.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Water....What water?

Quite the opposite of last week where I had a rising river, this week it was a struggle to find water at all, the local rivers were well below summer levels so this prompted me to head a bit further afield to old hunting grounds in search of deeper water.

I arrived just after 8am as the red coloured moon was dipping behind the hedgerows.

The first sight of the river looked grim, where had all the water gone!

It looked more like a babbling brook than a river and the sight of 5 cormorants lifting off the shingle as I exited the wood really did sink my heart, for goodness sake Im high up in the middle of the Pennine's nowhere near any estuary. Its about time these birds were brought into line as the powers to be certainly wont do anything until our rivers are completely devoid of all natural fish.

Anyway with that aside I started making my way upstream and stumbled across the first snowdrops I've seen this year about to flower.

Almost 3 hours had gone past and not a sign of any fish, not even a pull and I was fishing hard and looking in places where I wouldn't even bother about if there was water in the river but alas nothing. It was time to sit and have a coffee and absorb the surroundings if nothing else. A couple of dippers joined me and were hopping from rock to rock and bathing right in front of where I was sat against a tree, I love these little birds and the show they put on for you.

Whilst sitting having my coffee I noticed that there was a lot more oak moss around than normal, probably due to the lack of a cold winter so to speak.

The fish might not be in the mood but that certainly didn't stop the enjoyment of the day on the riverbank.

After a coffee and a short walk up to the next pool which had some water in it I was rewarded with a Grayling on the 2nd cast. A very welcome sight indeed 

Continuing on through the pool no more fish were found so almost back at the car I decided to cut my losses and head back earlier than normal as there was nothing happening at all and the sun was bright making a bad situation even worse, It was so hot walking I had to take off my neck warmer and woolly hat.

So that was it for another week but certainly not disappointed in anyway, it was hard work but thats fishing, as for the Grayling well that fell to a spider pattern that I tied up midweek and had on as a dropper whilst the nymph searched the bottom this searched the middle layers.

Dont you just love spiders patterns for producing the goods on a hard day.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Rising....River that is.

Looking at the weather forecast upstream of where I wanted to get out fishing didn't look good with heavy rain forecast from early morning through to lunchtime so it was only a matter of time before the river would dirty over and start rising so making the most of it I was on the river for just before 9am, light rain on & off & low grey cloud making it a dour day, but at least I was out on the river.

The river was even lower than last week and crystal clear so I knew it would be hard going. A couple of heron's lifted off from the area  where I wanted to start so that was not a good omen knowing that they had been patrolling the stretch.

It didn't take long till the first fish came to the hand, nothing big but very welcome. The average size of fish I have been taking from this stretch all year.

a couple more casts and another couple followed.

with nothing more coming from the area I moved upstream in search of more fish, the rain had started now and it was coming down heavy so it was a case of get behind the trunk of a tree the best I could and wait it out, it didn't take too long to ease and I ventured on up the river but nothing was moving apart from a lone kingfisher darting up & down the river. 

Another small Grayling came from a deep fast run and I managed to drop another 2 of them so the fish were around, then a slightly better fish made an appearance

A quick coffee and as I sat drinking it I seen the river change colour from clear to a dirty brown, the river was rising with the amount of rain that fell during the night and this was it reaching me, it was just before 11am so a couple of hours fishing was certainly better than none.

A couple more casts in the dirty rising water produced another Grayling before I finally decided to head home for lunch, a worthwhile couple of hours out on the river all be it brief.

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