Saturday, 22 April 2017

A Game of Two Halves

With me & my good lady making our usual visit to the Harrogate flower show tomorrow this weeks fishing was to be a game of two halves, first half was a couple of hours straight from work on Thursday night as it was meant to be the best night of the week for temperatures and I arrived just before 6pm at the river. Setting up the new 3# I was hoping to christen it properly and not have the uncharacteristic words uttered from my mouth again like I did on Sunday, it had seen a Grayling now all I wanted was a trout.

Walking upstream along the bank the first thing I noticed was the grannom hatch that was taking place they were everywhere but not many fish were moving for them.
I decided to sit at the head of a pool where I had a good vantage point to see the full pool so settled in and had a sandwich & a drink which was to be my evening meal. Watching the pool the hatch was a good one with literally thousand of grannom coming off but hardly any fish moving at all & the fish that were moving I thought to be small Grayling.

It was great to sit on the bank with the last of the days heat and listen to the Curlews and Oyster Catchers call out to their mates.

After something to eat I decided it was all or nothing so attached a small size 18 dry fly and covered one of the fish that were rising, almost immediately up it came and took my artificial, my call had been answered a small brown trout.
For the next hour the same routine with small brown trout and the occasional small Grayling took the fly.

As I decided it was time to start heading back towards the car I came over the top of the bank to see a lovely barn owl hunting just above the willows so I crouched down and sat and watched as it flew across its big white face peering down at me as it flew past, that made my evening as I love to see these majestic birds.

I dropped down into a final pool and the first cast at the head of the pool seen a lovely Grayling role on my dry fly and it was on.

A lovely long fish at just over 42cm long and in excellent condition a quick photograph and off it went back to where it came from.

Back to the car and call it a night, and what a lovely evening to be on the river all be it for only 2 hours it was well worth it.

Today seen me drive the country lanes through the sea of yellow rape seed fields surrounding the back lanes on route to the river.

I decided to spend a few hours at Devils bridge in the hope that I could tempt a couple of brown trout, as the river is really low and very clear so I had to look in the deeper water for the trout. I also felt that the current furled leader I had been using was a bit on the heavy side for the rod, so after some consultation with my mentor Steven I had knocked up a lighter leader in the hope that it would balance out better so a bit of trialling had to be done too.

There was a cold downstream wind blowing so the fly life was virtually none existent on the surface but I decided that I would go looking as I wanted to trial the leader and I had built it for dry fly fishing.

Walking upstream the pheasant were out in force and teaming up with the hens, I must have lifted nearly a dozen birds from the undergrowth as I walked up to the pool I had in mind.

A couple of fungi on the willow trees

On reaching the pool there was nothing moving at all and a horrible cold wind blowing, I sat for almost 30 minutes looking and waiting to see if the wind would subside but nothing!
Deciding to have a few exploring casts hard against the bushes on the far bank after a few casts a fish came from nowhere and took the fly.

A lovely golden brown trout as wild as they come had took the fly.

I managed to lift a small grayling from the same patch of water before I decided enough was enough, I had tested the leader which was nice and did exactly what I wanted it to do so I can now go ahead and knock up a couple of 3# furled leaders for myself.

A couple of hours on the river all be it nothing moving at all had seen a nice trout  and I had learned how the leader worked out, a nice couple of hours.

Monday, 17 April 2017


Easter break and traditionally that means a road trip back to Scotland, I had planned a day on the Clyde fishing on Sunday with some old mates I haven't seen in years and was looking forward to it very much, the forecast was light winds and overnight rain drying up by 10am.

On Saturday I had to visit Glasgow first thing before I headed to the river I was brought up on, the River Avon in South Lanarkshire a tributary of the Clyde.

It was a lovely day however a really cold wind was blowing which was making it difficult for everyone I was in contact with, some guys had opted to stop fishing on the Clyde it was that bad and head for the shelter of the Avon. I decided to take the easy option as I only had a few hours to go at before I had to be away so against my better judgement of fishing in the sheltered areas of the Avon Braes I headed for further up hoping to get a break from the wind.

On route to Scotland I stopped off at John Norris in Penrith and bought another carbon rod, Shock, horror I hear my cane friends saying, but I have to admit that after fishing all winter with the Shakespeare agility rod I was so impressed with it that I went and bought the Agility 2 rod in the 10ft 3# size and cant complain as a £40 DT3# floating line was thrown into the package too as an added bonus.

Saturday I arrived at my chosen spot which was gusting heavy winds but I knew a spot I was hoping might contain a fish or two, walking downstream the flowers were out and it looked really idyllic however the picture cannot show the cold wind blowing hard downstream, totally putting down any hatching flies that were trying to hatch in the bright sunshine.

I fear this churn has seen better days.

Now residing as a piece of riverside decoration filled with silt & sand.

I sat for 30 minutes at my chosen spot as rain showers blew over in the high winds, dampening everything and after seeing nothing on the surface decided to fish a couple of spider patterns back up stream on rout back to the car.  The wind was really bad and short casting was the order of the day and it paid off as about 15 minutes into the fishing I was rewarded with a fish, not a brown Trout I was looking for but a Grayling, and for anyone who fishes the Avon will know they are few & far between on the upper river so it was a nice bonus and in good condition too.

A quick snap before she was gone back to where she came from.

The view upstream in the afternoon sun.

If it hadn't been for the wind it would have been a perfect day for fishing but alas we cant have it all our own way as I was to find out on Sunday.

I met up with my partner for the day Davy at our pre arranged spot and we were hoping that the weather forecasters would be correct in that the rain would die off by 11am..........Never believe weather forecasters!

From the moment we pulled into the car park and looked at the thermometer reading 4 degrees and the rain getting heavier by the minute we knew we were onto a loosing battle from the start. We set up and headed to the river we were at least going to try and get a few hours fishing in. Davy was the first to connect with a Clyde fish, a Grayling which was slipped back straight away, I connected and then lost a fish which bemused Davy as he heard some uncharacteristic words utter from my mouth.... Another Grayling for Davy and more words uttered from my mouth. We walked upstream for a hundred yards or so only to be met with almost freezing rain and the water colouring over, the battle was over we admitted defeat and headed back to the cars, We had been on the river for just over an hour and a half. We stood chatting in the rain for a few moments before shaking hands and parting company, the road trip fishing was over, the Scottish weather had beaten me over the two days.

Davy was undefeated as is always typical when you leave and come back home, he had been out today on the Clyde and the weather played nice and allowed him some nice dry fly caught river Clyde brown trout.Well done Davy.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Proof is in the Pudding

This week I have been back at the vice tying a few extra flies for a trip Im going on soon so a few dries, wets & nymphs to cover every eventuality.

a few #18 cdc olives for when the fish are looking up.

a few more of the #16 spider patterns which did so well last week on my first trip out.

And when the fish arent looking up then a few # 16 for  the bottom, then I happened to receive a parcel which I had been waiting on.

so a few more imitations were tied, this time though they are all new to me and come highly recommended, so after a few ties this is what the final flies look like.

They say the proof is in the pudding so I took the bottom 2 flies of the 4 tied for a swim today seeing as they were new to me and I wanted to see what they performed like before tying up more.

I arrived on the river just before 9am and the sun was already high in the sky but the wind was blowing right  up the river and not much was hatching apart from where the trees were deflecting the wind off the water so I tied up with a clinger on the point and a spider pattern as a dropper and started fishing the fast stream. It only took a few casts until I was into my first fish of the day, unfortunately an out of season grayling and it took the clinger so although out of season I was happy the fly worked.

I made my way upstream and another 4 grayling took the clinger before I climbed out at the end of the wood to be met with a carpet of wild Garlic, with some in flower.

As I made my way upstream I noticed how busy the river was becoming with another 3 anglers dotted upstream at various points so a bit of a walk was needed to find some peace and quiet. As I sat to see if I could see any fish rising I happened to look behind me and there growing amongst the grass was a weird looking mushroom. 

Since returning home and after a bit of research I found out its a morels mushroom, which are sought after and collected for their flavour in cooking. Certainly the first one I've came across.

Being out the wind the hatch started to appear so the clinger was taken off but I was very pleased that in just over an hour it had accounted for 5 fish.

Setting up with a small olive I started covering the rising fish and soon found them to be grayling again after taking a further 4 in a row, so decided to move away as I didn't want to be continuously catching out of season fish.

I dropped down to have a look at the nest I discovered last week and this time the Goose was still on the nest as I passed at distance so an not to disturb her.

Covering another rising fish I hooked into yet another grayling, it seemed that the trout were not playing today at all as everything I had taken was grayling so far.  As I sat having a drink an almighty commotion erupted behind me in the scrub, something was upsetting the goose so I stood up from my sitting position to see a large otter being chased by the goose with her wings spread wide as if making herself a lot bigger and more fierce than the otter as it slipped back into the river and out of sight, the goose following the otter right into the water still making a racket as it went.

 I went across and had a quick look in the nest to see if  the eggs were OK. I know otters are opportunists but I think this one tangled with the wrong mother this time.

The river was getting busy as I had noticed another couple of anglers, seems the hot weather has brought everyone out, so I opted to make my way back towards the car and head to another river where I know there would be less anglers, so in passing I had a chat to see if they had caught anything and they were struggling and hadn't caught anything so I was quite pleased at what I had.

Just over half an hour later seen me park the car and a few moments later I was sat in another Dale watching another river for rising fish. The river was gin clear and very low, unlike the river I had just come from which was still carrying a good amount of water. 
I seen a rising fish tight into a bush on the far bank which was rising frequently  so I waded across and had a few casts at it and then it came up and took my artificial....another grayling!

a quick picture as I slipped her back into the crystal clear water and she was gone. I made my way downstream as the wind started to pick up again, as I looked for some shelter from the wind I came across a couple of rising fish just off some willows tucked out the wind, so a couple of casts seen me finally get the fly where I wanted it, the fish rose and yep another grayling hooked.
I decided to fish back to the car as the wind was only getting stronger and I didn't want to change my tactics only to continually catch feeding grayling, on the way back I managed to capture two small brown trout par as a consolation. 2 river and 5 hours fishing not a bad second trip out even though it was all grayling that were the mainstay but the wildlife and surrounding certainly oozed the weeks stresses away.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

1st Day of the New Season

The last time I had picked up my rod and wandered the river was exactly 6 weeks ago today, so it was nice to get back out on the river this time my target fish being the Brown Trout. A lot has changed in those six weeks with nature waking up and everything seemed so alive and fresh.

I wasnt sure where to start my new season so decided with the recent rain and the river being slightly higher than normal that I might as well start at the top, so that was decided, Updale was where I was heading.

As I drove closer to my chosen spot the black clouds loomed and it started to rain, that was the last thing I needed & I hoped it wouldn't last too long. As I drove to my usual parking spot I found it no longer there and restricted access due to demolition work on the old farm that I used to park in so after a few moments of walking around I seen that the club had found a new parking spot and re erected the parking signs further on from the farm.

I arrived on the river just as the church bells struck 10am. It was good to hear the pair of curlews as they flew over my head and just upstream a couple of oyster catchers were looking for food amongst the shingle.

The river was up and coloured more than I would have liked but after 6 weeks I was just glad to be out. Opting for a nymph & spider set up to start off with as it was still drizzling with rain and very dull so no fly life was moving at this time.

It didn't take long for the first fish of the new season to be in the net, however it was the wrong species. A small grayling in pristine condition.

As I made my way upstream  I knew a spot which might produce some fly life if it warmed up a bit as it was sheltered on both sides so decided to head for there, as I fished upstream another Grayling took a liking to my spider before I bumped into another angler who was just setting up. After the normal exchanges of courtesy it turns out we have spoken online to each other on a few occasions via a fishing forum so it was finally nice to put a face to a name, and with that I started to head to my chosen swim as Daren headed off downstream.

The first trout of the new season finally succumb to my spider pattern.

a lovely golden bellied fish although still a bit thin looking gave a lovely acrobatic fight before being netted, photographed and safely returned.

After another couple of small Grayling the sun finally made an appearance and it was time to ditch the waterproof jacket and absorb the suns rays. It also gave me the chance to grab a seat, have a brew and watch the river looking for fly life and sure enough olives and march brown's started to appear so a change over to a dry set up.

It was mainly olives that were the dominant fly on the water but occasionally a march brown would rise up, nowhere near the numbers we used to see on the river.

It was great to be casting the dry fly again and waiting for that moment when the fish would break the surface and take the fly, and it did.

right at the tail end of the fast water the first rise I seen of a trout taking the olives as they passed overhead, so with a couple of passes the trout finally came up and took my artificial off the surface.

As I was making my way back up through the thick vegetation, I was startled by a bird getting out of my way, I hadn't even see it in the thick undergrowth but I know why it was sitting so still until I was almost on top of it.

Who lives in a nest like this and has 6 large eggs.....

These do!

I have to say I was quite startled by her flapping her wings as she lifted off the nest and made her way through the low tangle of willows only 3 feet in front of me, I hadn't even seen her as I was transfixed on the river  running along the side of the vegetation looking for rising fish. It will be nice to see later on if all the eggs hatch into goslings. I have seen the family of geese on this stretch of river each spring for a few years with their new born so I hope it doesn't change this year.

When my heart rate finally settled down again I covered another rising fish, hooked it and after a short fight lost it as I was about to net it, I wasnt too bothered as it was an out of season Grayling.

The hatch of flies died off just as quickly as it started so I opted to switch back to a couple of spider patterns and it didn't take long for fish to show interest.

a couple of trout in quick succession from the same run.

and another couple of small Grayling a few moments later with a better Grayling around the 1.5lbs mark also coming to the net but it was oozing milk so released immediately.
I met up with Daren as I headed back downstream so a stop for a chat and he also had a few fish to spiders.

Sat watching the pool to see if any fish were still rising I spotted these small forget me not blooming in the sun. Also as I sat a Peregrine gave chase to a pigeon through the woods at speed, he was certainly shifting as he weaved in & out of the trees after his pray which I lost sight of.

With no movement at all I headed back in the direction of the car and fished down level to where it was parked with no further fish but what a lovely day to be back out on the river the assortment of wild life, birds and 4 Brown Trout and 7 grayling fish certainly made opening day a good one.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Almost There

With the Brown Trout season in Yorkshire only just opening today it gave me this week to tie off a few more flies in preparation for the forthcoming season.
The rivers are all in flood with the snow and rain we have had for most of the week so the trout are quite safe from anglers for another few days I suspect.

Going through my storage boxes to replenish the fly boxes for the forthcoming season I realised a good clean out was required.

and after a good sort out the boxes were soon reduced to a few to fit into my waistcoat for the river.

However as always we can never have enough flies but in this case it was flies for another member of my family who no longer ties but still fishes.

and the last couple of nights have seen me at the vice after hectic days at work so what better way to chill out & relax than a few flies in preparation for when the tout start to look up away from the nymphs.

A few #16 mixed parachutes.

Tomorrow is the AGM of one of the clubs I belong to and its always enjoyable to meet up with friends I haven't seen all winter and afterwards its a nice dinner in the pub to finish off the meeting, what could be better, and always a raffle which my contribution this year is 3 dry fly furled leaders and 3 wet fly / nymph furled leaders.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Appleby Olive

A pattern which I had heard about last season but never got the opportunity to see or use, I happened to mention to Steven when I was over in Cumbria for the Furled Leader tuition as I knew he had caught a couple of lovely fish on it including his personal best river brown trout a 4lbs + fish.

I finally got all the ingredients together for myself and got a couple tied up in preparation for the new season in just over a week's time here in Yorkshire

The Appleby Olive:
Hook  #16 Hends BL154.
Bead copper coated tungsten 3mm.
Tail: Paintbrush fibres
Body: olive dubbing blend, basically a mix of dyed rabbit and squirrel (golden olive and cinnamon) with a little red, black, olive and peacock glister and/or ice dub for added flash.
Rib: Madeira metallic: (from a sewing shop)

The dubbing can be purchased direct from Andrew Ellis the creator of the Appleby Olive, I contacted Andrew via his Facebook page Andrew's Scruffy Dubbing  and together with another couple of dubbing's they arrived with a nice letter in a couple of days.

The  metallic Madeira I managed to purchase from my local sewing shop via their online page

another pattern I tied up using some of the other dubbing I purchased

Saturday, 11 March 2017


After a week of practise, a few broken threads with some new tools / materials added to my armoury, I can finally say I know how to fully make Furled Leaders.

The spring scissors I particularly like so much so I bought 2 pairs as they are ideal for Fly Tying too.

Its been a week of mixed emotions with a few furled leaders almost complete only to loose it at the very end when tying the shorb loops, or a few threads to snap especially in the making of the indicator ones but as I said last week practise makes perfect and today I  got Steven to sign off on 6 furled leaders I have made & presented as graduation ones.

2 normal green furled leaders for dry fly fishing, 2 red and yellow leaders to be used as indicators when fishing nymphs and finally 2 green with red tips for fishing wet fly / nymphs.

I have to say Im pretty chuffed with them and all made by my very own hands will make it even more satisfying when I use them to catch fish with.

The triangle is complete of handmade items for fishing with.

Dont worry I wont be changing from The Flee & Float to incorporate the furled leaders I just wanted to learn another craft associated with fishing. Its been an absolute pleasure and honour learning this craft from Steven and I would like to publically thank him via the way of the blog for teaching me another craft.

This week I also took delivery of this season's
T-shirts which I like to wear whilst out & about with my fishing adventures, with the small logo on the front & larger on the back.

Thanks again to Barrie & Karen at BFGraphics
who continue to do me proud.

A graphic which caught my wife's eye some months ago whilst surfing the net, was also made into a T-shirt and once again Karen worked her magic.

The wife giving me a nice reality check....

Monday, 6 March 2017

A Furling We Shall Go....

Yesterday I left the Dales and headed over the Pennine's to that land known as Cumbria, thats the bit of land just south west of (Gods Country) Scotland, To meet up with my longtime friend Steven Dawson, AKA Mr Trout as some know him by.
As discussed in an earlier post I've been using Steven's furled leaders for more years than I care to remember and wouldn't go anywhere else as I class Steven as the best furled leader maker in the UK and is widely known for this in the Fly fishing circles of UK & abroad.

The invitation has always stood for him to teach me how to make them, but with most things we never got around to doing it before, but this time we made it happen as we have been discussing floats and an array of other things via emails etc but we really needed to get together to extract the grey matter from each other's brains over various tactics. The float making side of things didn't take that long and after a few pressies from me to Steven we got down to the leader making.

Steven is very much old school and has the patience of a saint as the first couple of furled leaders I attempted ended up in the bin with broken threads, and the laughs were just as plentiful.
Remembering that furled leaders are simply that, a load of thread furled together to form a leader, wound at speed with the aid of a drill/dremel.

The tools were very much familiar to what Im used to using with fly tying and the use of baiting needles for when I was a river coarse angler.

After mastering the furling it was the shorb loops that flummoxed me next, as my big fat fingers are not designed to work with twelve small threads tightly woven together and a few threads were missed in the creation but after a few more tries it became second nature and the old saying of practise makes perfect certainly came to fruition.

The rewards of Steven's tuition & patience, my own handmade furled leaders.

Steven kindly showed me an array of styles from the normal shorb loop to furling in leader rings and sighters when fishing with nymphs and also the manufacture of nylon furled leaders.

After a lovely lunch made by Steven's wife Irene we concentrated on practising the techniques learned and before I knew it I had made enough furled leaders to last me a couple of years.

It didn't just end there as Steven then set about making me a large furled leader board to create my own furled leaders and before I knew it I was practising on the one he had just made me to take away, it certainly saved me the time of looking for the necessary materials to manufacture it myself, and if in future I want to make smaller ones then its the same design but scaled down on a smaller board.

The 6ft + board now home and with a few added labels as reminders to myself ready to go, It will sit nicely fixed to the top of my desk to allow me to practise, and be stored away when not in use.

(Good job I listened to the wife and cleaned my room & desk)

Before heading home another cup of coffee and a choccy biscuit whilst discussing fly tying and a few pattern I was familiar with but wanted to clarify with him, mainly the Appleby Olive Nymph and a few extracted from his fly box were placed in my hand together with some dubbing to create my own.

Appleby Olive Nymphs.

Before we knew it , it was time for me to leave and after loading up the car with all the gear Steven had graciously given to me to make my own furled leaders I had one last pressie for him in the way of a bottle of my Sloe whisky which I knew he would enjoy and off I set on the trip home still buzzing from all the new techniques learned from throughout the day, something I wont forget in a very long time.

Another dark art learned and ticked off on my to do list, I know Old Peter the man who taught me to fish and make my own tackle would very much approve that I had learned from another master of his trade.

( an email arrived last night confirming that both Steven & Irene had indulged in a whisky and approve of it, so to sleep I went very contented in the knowledge)

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