“Hocus Pocus”

a very dark day needs some light to balance it out. this article cum memoir kindly sent in by Mark Surtees gleams with childhood fears that turn to admiration, magic, the realisation and appreciation that fly fishing is a lot more than just catching fish and most importantly, at least in my eyes, how we as sharers or teachers share and teach our passions. all too often, the what takes over the how but as with light and darkness, one doesn’t really mean anything without the other.

thanks again Mark for giving our readers another gem to reflect on and enjoy.


Hocus Pocus
(Focus, 1972)

Was it for fun as a kid on holiday or day trip? Perhaps it was in adolescence to distract you from a life of petty criminality, a developing meth habit or a wicked and dangerous career out on the cultural edge in politics, accountancy or law. Maybe it was as an adult just to help de-stress. Whenever it was, the chances are, one way or another, you were actively taught to fish. Very few people pick up fishing tackle of any description without encouragement and brief instruction from a third party.

My Grandfather taught me. Over cold fishless winters he would sit, black suited, in his high back chair, smoking bitter navy cut cigarettes, sour as wormwood, silent, waiting. Sometimes he looked at me with his old crow eyes and I wondered if he would lean forward and peck out my soul…..he didn’t, but I was only six years old and very, very afraid of him.

One spring, when the grasses were still flat from the snow and the primroses bloomed on the banks, I went with him to fish the local river. We sat among the streamside flowers and I watched him tackle up. He cast a beaten up bamboo rod with a broken tip that was patched with a short length of brass tubing, a greased kingfisher silk line and flies from an old mock tortoiseshell fly box which contained a few nondescript patterns he had tied himself long ago. I could see his fly land on the surface of the water, float a little, then disappear as a trout rose amongst the ripples in the run and took it.

For an impressionable little boy it was an act of unimaginable and astonishing magic, a fish conjured seemingly from nowhere. This relatively simple, deliberate and entirely expected catch on the part of my Grandfather caused a radical and entirely unexpected transformation in my childish opinion of him. I moved instantly from fear to fascination. I was six, he was a caster of spells, so I naturally concluded that he was, very obviously… a Wizard.

I begged him to teach me the magic, and, as I grew up, he did. It was of necessity an inexact, imperfect, ad hoc sort of instruction but it was a gift from Grandfather to Grandson of almost inestimable value. I think he knew that…me? I had no idea and he died long before I realised.

————————

Of course we all know that magic tricks do not happen by accident. They are repeatable, infused with purpose and completely within the control of the magician. Their objective is to deceive, just as ours is to deceive a trout in the stream when we fish.

Whilst, hopefully, we do not seek to actively bamboozle our clients in quite the same way, our lessons too are not, in many respects, significantly different to a well executed trick. If we structure and objectivise them properly then we too may surprise, amaze and delight.

Useful objectives should be observably measurable as far as is reasonably practicable and when we pick them they should be within the power of the student to achieve.
Appropriate selection of these achievable objectives allows students to build a succession of small but consistent learning wins. Each win a learned skill and each learned skill used to develop a new one and/or reinforce an old one.

For an instructor teaching within a “whole, part, whole” schema, it becomes critical to select suitable objectives so that common faults can be actively taught out without introducing negativity to the process. By doing this, within reason of course, new skills can be made to compound and combine largely error free.

That there are objectives for a student is a given. What is not so obvious, or maybe just not so often admitted, is that there are personal objectives for the instructor too. Whilst we may all wear the ego boosting insignia of our qualifications, the official regalia and psycho-protective badgery cannot really mask the ghastly truth, which is that we all, (well, most of us), have the same wonky limbic system and full complement of cognitive frailties as everyone else. So, I too want wins because this gives me a sense of achievement and I know I will instruct better and my student will learn better in a teaching environment which is giving us both positive rather than negative feedback.

In this context, although we clearly need subsets of grimly practical casting targets, there is no need to be emotionally dry with more abstract over-riding aims. Instruction isn’t just about a perfect PULD (Pick Up and Lay Down) or tail free loop, a quintuple toe hauled Jelly Roll or a cast out to the backing knot, it’s also a little bit about making people feel happy.

As a goal, I have to admit that this is very easy to say, not as easy as I ever first imagined to achieve and very difficult to objectively measure. But, sometimes, just sometimes, when you have had to do your very best sorcery to make it all happen, when those casts pop out from the turmoil like my Grandfathers perfect little trout from the ripple in the run, when you are dancing in a monastery garden with a beautiful laughing woman or being hugged by a big beardy biker on a wet suburban rugby pitch when the lessons end, then, you feel happy…and I like that…my Grandfather would have liked it too I think.

Mark Surtees ☺

so, you’ve accidentally caught a bird and not the fish. now what ?

that’s maybe not so far-fetched as it might seem at first as it’s hard to think of a place where we fish that isn’t also inhabited by birds and these birds will more often than not want to eat the very same things the fish do.
so far, i’ve managed to not hook any but a bat caught my fly on my back cast once and since i was fishing/casting upstream, by the time i first realized what happened and then brought it back to me it had drowned. sad moment.

in the video we’ll see an unfortunate fish-chasing gull who gets out of this predicament seemingly just fine, yay !
i can’t help but remember all the countless times i’ve had to yank out a fly during a drift when it was approached by ducks. this brings grrrrrs but a few grrrrs are a million times better than accidentally catching a creature that will probably fly off…

as noted, if this happens to you stay calm, be gentle yet firm and try to wrap the bird in a towel, t-shirt or something just as you’d wrap up a wounded cat or other animal. if you can, cover their eyes. being wrapped and temporarily blinded usually immobilizes them, giving you a better opportunity to get rid of that hook. speaking of hooks, it’s obvious once again that a barbless hook will a lot easier to remove if it already hasn’t come off as you retrieved the animal.

this isn’t an enjoy ! post but something to keep in the back of the mind. enjoy anyway.

 

 

hookless fly-fishing

here’s a little something different from Lee Spencer, way different.

i can relate to Lee’s story as i used to live right next to a wee stream in the french Pyrenees that apart from making lovely gurgling noises, had a very healthy population of gorgeous native brown trout. they weren’t of course, but these where ‘my’ trout if you see what i mean. i’d go look at them every day to see how they where doing, dream off into that dream place that being streamside takes one and of course learned a lot about how they lived, behaved and interacted socially, some of them even had names.

by wee i mean that at this level the stream was often no more than one metre wide. being completely wild and untouched by man and with lush vegetation abound, the stream itself was more often than not a green tunnel with a flow. once the obstacles of actually getting an imitation into their feeding spots where figured out, this being a Bow and Arrow cast nine.nine times out of ten because that was the only possible solution, getting these beauties to take a fly was relatively simple, they didn’t know anything about fishing pressure and in their world things that look like food generally are food but hooking up quickly became a problem, something the Bow and Arrow cast only tactic might have alluded to; there was no room to move the rod up, across or down to fight and land the fish. at this point i was already getting into the ‘it’s more about the strike than the fight and land‘ frame of mind so, the idea of cutting off the whole hook bend of a completed fly came to mind and was perfect for this particular situation.
i got my strike thrill, the little fishies i loved so much never really knew what was going on and remained where they’re supposed to be and i could do all this without breaking any more rod tips…

of course, i’m not expecting a lot of other anglers to go fishing without hooks but it’s a little something to think about. like mentioned earlier, it’s different, enjoy !


“Back in 1998 Lee Spencer did two things that changed his relationship with the big steelhead of the North Umpqua River.
He agreed to become the first full-time FishWatch guardian of the Big Bend Pool on Steamboat Creek, where as many as 400 large steelhead spend the summer in startlingly plain sight after swimming up the North Umpqua to spawn.
And he started cutting the points off the hooks on his flies… “

actually, just the points:

pointless-fly
“Everybody thought I was crazy, To me the whole peak of everything is the strike or the boil. Everything after that is downhill. Especially if you have to wait a long time to land the fish.
When you get a fish on, you get a run and a jump and at the jump it will throw the hook. That was satisfying enough for me.”

-click the image for the complete article on Deseret News-

Stewards Of The River Or Pillagers ?

reproduced in full with Mac Brown‘s kind permission, here’s a rant but it’s a good thought-provoking rant.

aimed at certain professionals in the fly fishing industry and other, as Mac calls them, profiteers, it’s about fishery welfare in the warmer months where water temps are simply too high and oxygen depraved to responsibly fish species such as salmonids that are poorly equipped to deal with the situation in it’s natural state and even less when they’ve had to also deal with having been caught.

now, most experienced anglers will know that once the water temps reach 68°F/20°C its time to back off but that’s not always the case. for local fishers who live in warmer climes and care to know, it’s a given but what about the well-intentioned novice or not-so-well-informed fishers or, traveling anglers ?
as an example, when i lived in Sweden the concept was completely unheard of as water temps tend to always stay cool enough even when air temps can be quite -actually downright- hot, and i’m guessing the same example can be equally valid for anglers in other parts of the world and all that leads us to the ‘Stewardship‘ part which is everyone’s responsibility. in my opinion it’s not just about setting professionals and profiteers right (actually, shaming sounds better… ), but also of sharing this information with those who don’t know. experience has taught me that if we take a minute, explain things simply with a good positive attitude, nine times out of the ten the message gets through and it’s readily accepted and everyone’s happy, specially the fish.

thanks again, Mac. keepem’ coming.


This short piece is my attempt to increase awareness about problems facing many of our trout waters, in my region as well as many around the globe. In our hemisphere, high summer water temperatures stress the local trout fisheries, and should be a sign to concerned anglers that it is time to leave the stream for another day.

Independent guides and fly shops who book trips should be ardent advocates for keeping streams healthy. But often they’re not. Conflicts arise because the summer tourist season occurs when most of our trout streams become stressed. July and August for trout fishing in Western NC is the off season! When the early morning water temps approach 70 F, it is best to look for something else.

Warm water fishing for smallmouth bass, perch, bluegill, is a better choice. Carp is one of my favorite species to target during summer.

Shops and outfitters who tell you different are profiteers, not stewards of the resource. They look at the short-term, since even they know that trout caught in 70+ F water have a very dicey chance of survival.

These profiteers actually hurt the resources they claim to love and protect! This becomes an ethical decision for those customers that are hell bent on trying to catch a mountain trout during the wrong season!

If you want to trout fish in July or August for vacation then head to Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, or Colorado! Fly fishing has more appeal in recent years, and now vacationers throw it into the mix of rafting, horseback riding, zip-lining, mountain biking, hiking, and many other great activities the Smoky Mountains area offers. The difference with angling when it is too warm is that in no way can it be good for fish or angler!

Shops and profiteer guides should be offering clients a change of species during the hot summer months. Guides can teach learning to read water, casting, rigging, stream-side techniques, and a host of other aspects of the sport.

This might provide opportunities like targeting Chub for learning nymphing techniques through the middle of the day. Chub provide plenty of subtle strikes just like trout! Here is a trophy from a few days ago on one of my favorite streams in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with my 10-year-old son.

Excessive fishing pressure is an increasing problem on many delayed harvest trout streams, due mostly to the increasing number of new fly fishers as well as an excess of fishing guides and outfitters. There is a big difference between how much room to leave fellow anglers on a Delayed Harvest stream versus a wild stream. The wild stream requires perhaps a mile or more out of sight. On the Delayed Harvest stream that may be only a 30 feet. Delayed harvest waters receive many numbers of trout that tend to stay together when they are first stocked.

Often, local guides work when and where they can, through shops or other outfitters. Part of the issue is that these guides’ experience levels are all over the place. In my region, The Smoky Mountains, there are too many fishing guides. An Ozark term my grandfather used to say is “the market is glutted.” Many shops and outfitters just look for bodies to fill slots on their books, regardless of experience and knowledge of the area. In my area, guide prices range from $80 to well over $500 for the same trip on the same water.

The difference of what you come away with learning and also catching is quite obvious if you really do your homework first. In fly fishing especially, you get what you pay for.

Most area tourists would hope the local shop will give them credible information. And this is typically true in the Western states for the hundreds of reputable shops.

But, in my opinion, the Southeast is a circus show, with the exception of a few quality shops. People pay hard-earned money for a quality trip. The older I get, the more twisted our sport seems to be growing.

And it’s happening all over the globe. Social media — like advertising on Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram — can enable anyone to compete for clients in their region or create a website or blog by paying SEO experts for internet exposure! I am sure you have all heard that if it is on the internet “it must be true”!

The important question folks should be asking is can the instructor teach casting and line control to provide a drag-free float? Can they teach techniques that will stay with you for a lifetime of enjoyment fly fishing? Will your trip have guides that are enablers to improve your overall skill set on the stream? Will it be a mundane afternoon of bobber lobbing with hearing only the words “mend it, mend it again, mend it” rather than adjusting to the rigging and tactic appropriate for the moment?

Another important question –, regardless of skill, teaching ability, qualifications, certifications, does it even matter to the client? Is it only about who is the cheapest price overall? So this Disney approach to the sport is something that will take me a while to get my head around since I have pushed hard for very high quality trips for close to thirty years now.

It seems to me that down the road this has to “Make America Dumb Again” in regards to tourism fly fishing mayhem.

Mac Brown

the Circle

this 51cm – 20″ beauty from a northern England limestone creek was a special fish, a two fisher fish.

i had spotted it holding in its shallow lie and covered it several times with several generic mayfly imitations but it wasn’t in the least bit interested so after a while i insisted that it was buddy Mark Legget‘s turn to temp it.
several “no, you spotted it, its yours” and “yeah, but it doesn’t like me and i really want you to catch it”s later, he not-really reluctantly gave in and positioned himself while i spotted from up on the bank and two perfect drifts later hooked up. after a good fight from both parties i landed it for Mark and we where able to briefly admire it from close up.
memory’s poor, i’ve always had a hard time remembering numbers, but i believe it was around 1,6kg – 3 1/2 lbs. that’s no record by any means but its really an awesome fish for such a small stream but a lot more than that, this was the nicest catch in ages.
Mark was of course happy but something deep inside tells me that i was a lot happier, reminding me of my youth and Hugo my godmother’s husband who was a ‘second father’ for me of sorts who so frequently brought me along on his fishing trips and who was always ecstatic when i’d manage to bring a fish to the net, no matter its size.

we’re of about the same age and Mark and i of course don’t have the mentor/parental or whatever else connection i had with Hugo but this fish left a similar feeling; of having shared and completed a scenario with its wished-for outcome as a team making it a much greater sum than its parts. the circle is complete.

Fly Fishing- Top 10 Trout Fishing Tips

by Steffan Jones via Fulling Mill blog

lists of fishing tips get bandied about regularly but its rare in my opinion to find one that gets a 10 out of ten grade. written as a guide for river fishing in the UK, i can’t think of a single area in the world where the same tips wouldn’t prove to be invaluable.

here’s a few extracts:

1. Time of day; simply put – don’t be hungry when the trout are hungry! You often see people heading off the river between 1-3pm early season when any hatch to speak of is likely to happen. You also then see people coming off the river at around 7pm in the summer, when the main action has probably not even begun yet – certainly in dry fly terms anyway. Be on the water when the fly life is most abundant; the trout may well be dormant before and after these times, awaiting and feeding hard when the banquet arrives.

10 top trout fishing tips - Fulling Mill
10. Paraphernalia; don’t laden yourself with accessories, but some bits are vital and should never be left at home. In my jacket I would always have; fly floatant, mucilin, sinkant/leader mud (more for taking the shine off the leader than actually sinking it), amadou for drying flies out, leader material in 0.10-0.18mm, forceps and snips, then some spare leaders and tippet rings. Leader holders can also be of great use, and I would always advocate the circular ones to avoid leader kinks. (don’t forget your net !)

be sure to click the image to access the complete article. use it as a starting guide for beginners or as a refresher for the more experienced, there’s more than a few somethings for every angler of every level to adapt to their particular location and needs. enjoy !

Transporting Fly Rods Safely

today’s great tips and tricks comes to us from Brad Harris via FlyLife.

as we’d seen previously in Understanding how fly rods break“so, why do rods break ? it can be through improper use under load or by banging it with a fly (vulgarly referred to as ‘Clousering’). another reason i suspect and something i rarely hear about, because nobody wants to admit it… is a lot of anglers damage their rods when they’re not even fishing or casting. bings and bangs during transport, throwing them down (yes, throwing them down… ), the ever-present beer and it’s consequent mind-numbing and slipping and sliding effects and who knows what else, must account for a lot of “huh ?! WTF happened ?” reactions when they’re using them for real later on. in a sense, they’re recreating a ‘Clousering’ without even having the fun of casting ! “

in Brad’s well explained and thought out Racking It For The Road article, we’ll see several options with their respective pros and cons on how to avoid at least some of life’s misery with as bonus, a simple, effective, practical, inexpensive DIY option featured in the image below which particularly caught my eye. click on the pick to access the complete article, and safe travels !

 

rodrack DIY

“…then others just don’t fanny around…”

not a whole lot to learn or whoop and whap about but a 1:52 short little venture into Scottish river-side humour for your pleasure that’s bound to raise a few lip corners. the cheering ooohs and ahhhhs make it really special, enjoy !

10 foot Spiders

in the UK the ‘traditional’ way to fish Spiders/North Country Wets/soft hackles is upstream or across stream and that’s how i like to fish them best. it doesn’t have anything to do with the tradition aspect because i couldn’t care less about tradition but because this manner presents the fly(s) in a dead drift/natural way just as one would with a typical dry fly. from that perspective, the two, wets and dries are fished exactly the same, the only difference is the unweighted wets are either drifting  just under the water’s surface film on faster water or just a little bit deeper on slower flows.

Luke Bannister‘s great just-out video shows us the up and across on pretty slow water to sighted fish holding under the surface and not rising to eat. true to form, Luke’s videos are always in gorgeous settings with gorgeous trout, all to the soundtrack courtesy of some lovely little winged musicians: a real treat.
watch it to relax, get excited or to learn, whichever way, it’s all good. enjoy !

Once you’re finished sucking out the marrow

you can go all DIY and carve your very own EDC BoneFishing rod ! coming out soon will be a carbon-reinforced sinew reel to complete this outstanding outfit, until then, let’s enjoy something quite novel.

ps- note the complete absence of bone loading yet very nice and tight loops. it kinda makes one wonder why loading and unloading a fly rod is so often referred to as the end-all in fly casting.

i dreamt that you dreamt that a fish dreamt of you.

or did i just dream all that up ?

Louis Cahill’s article made me realise that i’ve never or at least can’t remember ever having dreamt  of fish, fishing or anything loosely connected to one of the activities i like doing so much when awake. following through with the theory explained in Louis’ piece that dreams are there to ‘file away’ information then that leaves two possibilities: that info is already filed away or the info is unfilable. for all i know and that ain’t much, i decided long ago that as far as dreams are concerned, i don’t want to know how or why. they’re intangible beings that operate on their own on their own schedule, sometimes entertaining, sometimes not but always interesting as long as we don’t try to make any sense of them and just take them as they are.

“I don’t know what fish dream about. Maybe they dream of the Mothers-day hatch or of shad kills. Perhaps they dream of herons or bears. Maybe they dream that they are birds soaring in the clouds. I like to think that once in a while they dream of me.

fish dream trout louis cahill“I was just there, in that big slow run, you know the one. I was eating caddis flies and all of a sudden I was just yanked up out of the water. It was like I was swimming but I wasn’t going anywhere. Nobody would help me and I just kept getting hauled up out of the water and then, from nowhere, there was this big guy, like huge with a beard. He picked me up with both hands and he kissed me. There was a bright flash of light and I was back in the water. I think he was God. What do you think it means?”

that was just the end of this thought-provoking read. click the image for the complete article and as always great stuff on Gink & Gasoline. thanks again Louis !

Fly Fishing Tips and Tricks- Analysing Trout Rise Forms

a real gem from Alan Bulmer at Active Angling New Zealand for your trout-hunting pleasure. Alan proposes that rise form recognition is ‘a lost skill’ and even if it isn’t completely lost, it’s a subject that’s rarely touched upon in contemporary fly fishing literature whether that be in print, on the net or among anglers themselves.
in a roundabout way, the average fly fisher will see a rise or rings and assume that the fish is feeding on or in the surface film and instantly tie on a dry fly or emerger but the keen observer will notice that there’s a lot more to it than that.
as we’ve previously seen in How fish eat, and how Alan astutely points out at the end of his piece, “The peculiarities of a rise form are not easy to observe. Often it cannot be said with certainty what fly has been taken; the rings of each pattern proceed so rapidly outwards that the pattern is always in a state of change”, as with most things in life, there are no absolutes and there’s always countless, unavoidable variables but the more we know, the better we can react to that knowledge and simply get better at what we do while feeling a bit more fulfilled.
all this hopefully inciting to spend more time observing and not just randomly looking, this article’s subject is about trout but the same principles with a few variations of course can be applied to other insect-eating fish.

here’s a few morsels to wet your appetite:

“There is one chapter in particular which is fascinating and that is a sixteen page treatise on analysing rise forms. This chapter summarises much of what had been learned through observation by the masters*, GEM Skues, Harding, Lamond and Taverner himself. These fly fishermen pioneered the sport and their observational and analytical skills were legendary. This book was published in their hey day so it must have been cutting edge at the time.
bulge rise
Back in the day analysing trout rise forms was considered a necessary skill for dry fly and nymph fishermen. Those skilled in the art could look at a surface disturbance, characterise it as bulging, humping, tailing, sucking, sipping, slashing, pyramid, kidney, head and tail, porpoise roll or spotted ring and accurately determine what the trout was feeding on and where in the water column it was feeding. In some cases they even counted the number of tiny bubbles appearing within the ring formed as the trout rose to determine what fly to use. This is a skill which I fear may no longer be in the repertoire of most anglers.”

rise-table

click on either image for the complete article. this is really-really good stuff, enjoy !

* note how there’s absolutely no mention of the redundant Halford

a strike of good luck

ah, the joys of going back through old photos and finally seeing them correctly for the first time ! taken last fall in the Scottish Highlands, i had left mates Al and Bob to search ahead for any trout that might want to play, did a quick turn-around before passing the peak to take in the scenery and take a quick phone pic. distinctly remembering at the time that i would probably edit out my buddies because they’re just far away indistinct spots (sorry guys… ) and just keep the image for its lanscapeness but a closer several-months-later look revealed that at the very same instant the shutter button was pressed, as we can see from the ring, a trout had taken Al’s fly.

finally, Al and Bob remained in the image and they’re still indistinct spots but its a nice coincidence, the kind that makes the moment special.

A (very short) history of Landing Nets

i hope you’re not too excited as the (very short) part of this post’s title should give you a clue that unfortunately and after several hours of research, there isn’t a whole lot available on the subject.
there’s of course the more than obvious dictionary definition with a tentative origin date:
landing net def.

and a few more tidbits such as these-

Izaak Walton and his scholar - 16hundredsomething (those outfits !)
Sir Izaak Walton and his scholar – 16hundredsomething
(those outfits !)
Claes Jansz Visscher - 1630
Claes Jansz Visscher – 1630
BrookesFrontpiece1790
Brookes Frontpiece – 1790

but it was only through The History of Silk, Cotton, Linen, Wool, and Other Fibrous Substances which interestingly enough isn’t credited to any authors… that i was able to back a bit further in scoop-net time to find this sorta-quote from Oppian of Anazarbus, a Greco-Roman poet-dude who lived in the 2nd century. alas !!! (remember, i spent  few hours on and off the landing net topic and this is as exciting as the subject gets)Oppian

apart from a variety of different materials used throughout history to create the basic hoop, bag and handle, very-very little has changed and i guess that even the creative mind will have a hard time improving whats basically perfect as it is. with so many objects/tools/things of all types that could do with a little redo, i really like the idea that this one is something we don’t have to think about.

to finalize today’s mostly useless yet hopefully pleasant history blurb, the image below is an offshoot of a series of images i took of a very traditional and exquisitely hand-made landing net review i’ll publish in the following days.
the historical curiosity, i guess, a direct tactile connotation of having handled, twisted, turned and scrutinized this lovely object/tool. history aside, this one’s easy to pick up but hard to put down…

netmesh m.fauvet-TLC 20-3-16

How to Fish Emergers for Trout

the title says it all. filled with very excellent tips, this great fishing technique tutorial by Peter Charles warants no more additional comments on my part apart from the suggestion that this is an absolutely fantastic and very fun manner to fish traditional North Country Wets or Spiders or their contemprary counterparts and variants. continuing that thought, the very same fishing techniques will be just as effective with the use of other types of wet flies, unweighted nymphs or in a pinch if you don’t have any just-subsurface flies in your box that day, a ‘drowned’ dry. (just soak it by pinching it underwater till it doesn’t float anymore)

enjoy !

How trout take subsurface flies

this film is really interesting and not something we get to see very often.
the purists will moan and groan that this study was done on stocked fish using stocked fish flies but even if its ultimately possible, its also highly improbable that someone is going to go through all the effort and time to get the same footage on wild stock, besides, i don’t think it would make for a big difference. also, wild fish of the same size don’t tend to congregate so much, further decreasing the competitive agressivness seen in this video so, let’s just take from this what we can.
firstly, seeing fish attack flies is well, exciting. its one of the major reasons we do what we do. also, from a practicle aspect, this vid says a lot about how fast they’ll spit that fly back out; something we tend to not like as much !

i didn’t bother counting but what seems more than obvious was how fast the deer hair muddler-headed fly (the first in the series) was spit out. after viewing this several times there even seemed to be a panicked expression (i know, i know. that’s dangerous ground but please bare with me on this one, here’s my point)-
take a muddler head fly and hold it between your fingers; its prickly and stiffish and doesn’t feel like any ‘normal’ fish food and that leads me to this, at least for the moment, conclusion.
its not to say that muddlers aren’t great flies because they are but the spit-out rate and how fast its spit out ratio seems higher than with non-prickly adorned flies and this from what the purists are calling ‘dumb fish’…

fly no. 2 and 4, generic non body-hackled wooly bugger type lures (for lack of a better name) are kept in the mouth longer. had the hook point been there these would have produced more hook-ups because the angler would have had more time to react to the takes.

enough rambling, whether we come to any practicle conclusion regarding fly designs or not, its still something i’m sure you’ll enjoy watching.

better Wading through Yoga

for most anglers, this is about as close to any kind of exercise as they’ll get…

%22power snap%22

but fear not ! and even though i know for sure 99.9% of you will just laugh and scoff the mere idea i’ll reach some sort of blogger’s nirvanaish bliss if just the 0.01% can relate you can still work on your ‘power-snap’ and also become a little fitter or at least live with a little less pain and have a freer movement range that’ll of course make your days on the water better and also improve your posture, tv watching experiences, driving comfort, your work day, gaming, sex and all the other trivial things in life thanks to a few rather easy stretch routines.

forearmplank
Forearm Plank (think of it as full-body SLP)

“Colorado lakes and rivers lure fly-fisherman with natural beauty, peaceful waters and hard-fighting trout. But, as serene as fishing may be, overuse injuries are common. Many anglers complain of pain in the shoulder, elbow and wrists that can last for hours or even days after a fishing trip.”

A number of factors lead to overuse injuries. Casting technique, rod weight, rod design and physical stance can all affect the likelihood of developing overuse injuries. For most anglers, some amount of pain is difficult to avoid. But just a few minutes a day spent opening and strengthening the shoulders, elbows, forearms and wrists will help avoid overuse injuries.”

have a beer or three, don your waders and click either pic for the complete article while trying not to break anything in the process. enjoy !

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Modified Upward Plank – “Push it all Into the Clouds”
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The Gorilla ! grunting is recommended.

Fly Fishing Literature: Fishing with the Fly

by Charles F. Orvis – A. Nelson Cheney 1883

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” What comfortable satisfaction or foreboding premonitions do you image possess the noble lord while he is taking his recuperative rest in the middle chamber, after passing from his matriculation in the sea ? Faith ! you can almost read his emotions in the slow pulsations of his pectoral fins, and the infliction of his throbbing tail ? Perhaps he shrinks from the barricade of rock and foam before him ; or hesitates to essay the royal arch above the gorge, which reflects in prismatic hues of emblematic glory the mist and mysteries of the unattempted passage.
And his doughty squires around him ; do they share his misgivings, or are they all royal bloods together, sans peur sans reproche, in scale armiture of blue and silver, eager to attain the land of promise and the ultimate degree of revelation ? Ah, the way is indeed beset with difficulties and crucial tests, but its end is joy and fulness of knowledge : and “knowledge is the beginning of life.”

boy that’s schmaltzy but what  great schmaltz !

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along with assorted goodies such as: Fly Casting for Salmon, The Angler’s Greeting and close to my heart, Why Peter Went A-Fishing
this isn’t your average collection of angling literature.

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there’s also a few of these but the real gems are in word form.
to access the 302 other pages on Internet Archive click either pic. enjoy !

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Steelheading and CutsieBear ethics

lovemilkshakethese little cutsie-things sure could use a Love Milkshake

and maybe check out some of the old tunes once in a while when the slurping’s over.

Fly Fishing Tips and Tricks- Weight shift/Attitude adjustment

Davy Wotton needs no introduction. for me, he’s one of those few people that when he speaks and shares his wisdom, i’m all ears because those words are the fruit of many, many years of experience and always lead to not only learning something new but also a new mental approach to that particular subject and today’s ‘Attitude Adjustment’ does just that.
it’s not just a super-easy way to very quickly get our flies at the right depth but also gets us thinking about how flies move and how we can alter those moments during the drift or retrieve.

here’s just a few text tidbits to wet your appetite:

“There is no doubt that bead headed fly patterns have a place but not always. That said by a simple process the fly fisher can for the same fly pattern used have many options in so far as altering how that fly will fish and by what attitude or movement it can be presented be that dead drift or with animated movement such as fishing wet fly, soft hackles and streamers.”

Davy Wotton 'Attitude Adjustment'
“So here is the deal. l carry with me a box which contains tungsten beads of different sizes and colors, size of bead is of course related to the weight. Many of my fly patterns are not adorned with a bead head included on the hook shank.
l now have many options to change the fly by the addition of bead size and color, or number of beads used, more to the point by the addition of the bead to the tippet or leader above the hook eye it will cause the fly to fish hook up.”

click the pic to access Davy’s complete article. enjoy !
and HERE for previous articles on Davy’s wisdom posted here on TLC

My seatrout mojo is a bad mojo

here’s the scene- i’m on a lovely Scottish river that’s noted for having a good run of seatrout. there’s also a lot of golden-bellied brown trout and salmon but since seatrout are far and few between in my part of the world i decide to spend the evening trying to catch what’s been so far an elusive species for me or who knows, maybe a salmon. on the way to a promising looking run, all of a sudden mayflies started popping up, dancing all around me and all-exciting rings started to happen all over the pool. a lot of them.

those rings where created by the aforementioned golden-bellies. the as-yet unstrung rod was an 8wt more than capable of of handling the biggest seatrout this river might offer and the flies in my box where all seatrout/salmon type things which could never be confused with the mayflies that where dancing about and being chomped by my buttery friends.
the little voice said: pursue the quest and persist ! so i listened, got ready, waded in and started the evening wilfully thinking that one specie’s appetite was sure to be wetted by another’s.
the hatch got stronger and stronger and the feeding frenzy carried on relentlessly despite all my line-thrashing and Spey swoops and whomps right over the trout’s very heads. i even tried swinging and retrieving my seatrouty morsels in front of their noses and they’d just continue sipping the bugs away, sometimes right next to my offering and at others, right next to the line that was moving in front of them. these guys where in gluttony mode and nothing could put them down… you’ve already guessed that once again, seatrout where only a bittersweet, delisional dream that never came through.

once back at the camp, my friends where very happy to tell me in great detail of all the lovely browns they caught, released and took pictures of and that made me very happy for them. i showed them my ‘trophy pic’ above and since they are friends and good friends, i guess no-one felt the need to say “should have taken the trout rod instead, Marc…” and i fully agree with that unstated statement.
fishing for seatrout is a boring, fruitless and frustrating endeavour. they’re not even pretty and i know this because i’ve seen countless photos of them that other people have caught. i’ll probably never do it again but then, i just might if i ever get in better terms with my mojo.

It is Traditional.

during my recent UK stint big buddy and today’s special guest blogger Mark Surtees invited me to fish two historical southern England chalkstreams; the Avon and the Wylie, both part of a handful of rivers in the Salisbury area that where some of the play and testing grounds for all the famous chalkstream fly fishing authors/forefathers: Skues, Sawyer and Halford the Weird just to name a few that still mostly established our manner of fishing as we see it today . although there’s a lot to learn from the past, i tend to not get all gooey when it comes to visiting historical places but i’ll have to admit that the day was a bit of a fishing highlight and i left it with yes, a certain mushy yet very pleasant aftertaste: the good kind, the kind that says mmmmmm… and brings a smile.
i’d heard of these famous waters all my life and they and their inhabitants, keepers and fishers have often been subjects right here on TLC but for one reason or another, never got to grace their exquisitely manicured banks.


i was lucky to just catch the tail end of the Mayfly season, the ‘real’ mayfly as it’s often considered in England, the big, milky-yellowish Danica. as another treat, the ranunculus where still flowering and we where able to enjoy them just in time as the weeding started just the next day. there’s a certain irony to this culling as the water weeds are a great breeding/hiding ground for all the insect groups the fish love to eat but these slow-flowing waters can get completely covered with the stuff making it unfishable. although i was an invited guest, keeping in mind the exorbitant prices it costs to fish one of these beats, i guess it’s understandable that fishers prefer to cast their flies on water instead of catching weeds on every cast. they do make life a bit difficult drift-wise…

i’m realising that my intended short introduction to the main event of this post is turning into a tirade… but i have to add a little more. hopefully you’ll consider my words as an appetiser or foreplay for the main course ! but since these rivers have special rules, and that’s what all this ‘tradition’ stuff is about i’ll be quick.
i didn’t get to keep the booklet that was allotted to me for the day but it basically goes like this: fishing from bank only (pretty cool not to have to wear waders) with either dry flies or nymphs (i’m equally cool with that specially that there was a decent amount of bugs flying here and there and fish where feeding happily on or near the surface) and the really weird and very unnatural one to me: upstream only.
from a practical point of view, considering the above rules, the slowish water with no special currents, the mowed paths above water level and easy casting space, my go-to approach would be my usual across-stream presentation while keeping a low profile. it’s by far the easiest and most efficient manner to get a great drift. if the fish takes the fly, great ! and if it doesn’t we can easily try another presentation or several without ever lining the fish or spooking it by lifting the line to recast. etc, etc, etc.
we had a good talk about the whys and what-fors with not only Mark but several other friends we met along the banks during the day and no other could come up with any other explanation apart from Tradition

“It is traditional, when discussing the southern English chalk streams, to speak, or even to write, in a tone of thatched and rose bowered wistfulness. It seems impossible to talk of these beautiful rivers in anything other than worshipful whispers. They represent an angling wormhole, a time passage back to the days of horsehair, cat gut and silk. Places where an angler, too twisted and tight wired by modern living, can kneel amongst the meadow flowers and cast at fat trout rising in the pale flint knuckled channels between the ranunculus beds, romancing across the years with the saints of the chalk streams who kneeled on these very same banks a hundred years ago.
Sadly, such a communion is beyond me because my knee isn’t up to bending much. This is due to a nasty “improperly ironed trouser turn-up” incident which caused me to whack it on the corner of the kitchen table last Saturday. Not being able to kneel and, with the added disadvantages of middle age and considerable bulk ruling out any possibility of demonstrating how to make oneself completely invisible behind a buttercup or a handy clump of meadowsweet, the prospects of a wistful riverbank commentary on the joys of chalk stream angling with a Frenchman seemed somewhat limited.
Via his book, Dry Fly Fishing in Theory and Practice, Frederick Halford had an enormous influence over the regulatory framework for chalk stream fishing. For example, whilst some rules can seem a little odd to the uninitiated, it remains the case that fish in these waters have to be approached with some discretion or they will leg it in to the safety of a weed bed or under a reedy bank. They are exceptionally easy to spook. Applying a little common sense will tell you that in this kind of environment, if you stand upstream of a rising fish, wave a stick about and hurl a string at it, then it will generally clear off.
It is commonly believed that this perfectly rational thinking is the root of the “upstream only” rule. Astonishingly, it seems not, this more subjective analysis, scornful of the wetties, probably is:-
“On one point all must agree, viz., that fishing upstream with fine gut and small floating flies, where every movement of the fish, its rise at any passing natural, and the turn and rise at the artificial, are plainly visible, is far more exciting, and requires in many respects more skill, than the fishing of the water as practiced by the wet-fly fisherman.”

Mr Halford is also very firm on another matter, that of dress. He advocates that one should only ever fish these rivers in elastic garments made of wool. Stockinette stitched wool to be precise. Our Fred had an entire suit constructed from material which must have been a form of exceptionally hairy Victorian Lycra. It cannot conceivably have been comfortable, warm summer evening spinner falls must have been a distinctly tickly affair and it surely caused some significant difficulties with “unnecessary dampness”.
So, whilst his view of upstream casting remains influential and an amusing irritation to French visitors, his proclivities with respect to itchy elastic body wear have been discarded over time, no doubt due to irritation of an entirely different nature.
However, interestingly, a stockinette stitch is used in some forms of compression bandage and this would obviously be extremely useful for my knee. So, by channelling the spirit of Halford as my sartorial guide, and accepting that modern technology can better the fabric, I propose to have made a full body Lycra fishing suit decorated with butter cups and meadowsweet.
Although it may present some minor difficulties in the pub at the end of the day, or on the bus home, this will provide injury support and offer a perfect blending with the bank side vegetation. In fact, because it will make me all but invisible to the fish, I may even be able to cast downstream.
Just like Marc…  *
”vive la revolution”

and just to show that Mark is somewhat of a rebel himself, here he is performing a Traditional Downstream Grayling Release (untraditionally known as the Grayling Flop) on one of those very hallowed upstream-only chalkstreams…


* you’ve probably already guessed: i was fishing slightly upstream to a semi-regularly rising trout when all of a sudden a nice big boil happened straight downstream on my side of the bank no more than two rod lengths away. close to fifty years of instinct/habit/reflexes (and you can add every other knee-jerk reaction action to the list) instantly kicked in and i thoughtlessly did a Snake roll and placed the fly dead centre of the still small ring and had an instant take from a beautiful golden-bellied brown and i don’t feel the slightest remorse from my heinous crime…

thanks for such a lovely day, Mark. it’s always a treat to see you but this was really special.

Fly Fishing Tips and Tricks- Fitting Braided Fly Line Loops

to celebrate TLC’s shiny new face here’s some more than excellent tips on installing braided loops from Mike Barrio of Barrio Fly Lines.
the trick with the monofilament ‘threader’ really makes it easy to snug up the fly line end inside the braid and get it just right. enjoy !


Personally, I prefer to connect my leader directly to my fly line with a constriction type knot, in my experience this offers me a better transition from fly line to leader and better presentation. But braided leader loops are a very popular alternative method and I am frequently asked how to fit them.

There are numerous braided leader loops available on the market, many of these are too long and too heavy for most fly line tips and can cause them to sink, especially when fitted to lower weight lines. A lot of them are also very poorly made and can fail on a good fish. In my experience, the Roman Moser Minicon Loops are the best that I have found.
2-160515124137These are easy to fit. I usually grab 10 inches or so of nylon, thread it through the loop and hold it back in a ‘U’ against the loop ( loop through loop ) then I slide the red sleeve over the loop so that the sleeve is mostly sitting on the nylon.
2-160515124440Then I insert the fly line inside the braid at the other end and feed it up through the braid until it reaches the point where the loop is formed. Sometimes the end of the braid can be a bit tight making it difficult to insert the fly line, but if you push or prod the end of the braid with your finger this will help to loosen and expand the braid a little.
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Now hold the nylon and slide the sleeve back over the loop and along the braid until it reaches the other end, I like to have about 3/4 of the sleeve sitting on the braid and 1/4 on the fly line.

A braided loop works by constriction, so the harder you pull the braided loop from the loop end, the more it will tighten and grip the fly line between the loop and the ‘sleeve anchor point’. Don’t be tempted to add a spot of glue at the loop end, as this could cancel out the constriction of the braid.

Braided loops work well when simply fitted like this, but some folk like the added assurance of a spot of waterproof superglue. If you wish to add waterproof superglue, stop sliding the sleeve just before you reach the end of the braid (picture 5) add a little glue to the end of the braid and then slide the sleeve over this to the 3/4 – 1/4 point. Only use a very small amount of glue, as slightly too much can cause your fly line tip to sink.

Hope this is useful 😎

Best wishes
Mike


as for TLC’ shiny new face, it was time to do some spring cleaning and since the rags and cleaning solution where out i thought i’d find a simpler, cleaner looking page layout that also works faster and better at home or with mobile devises.
since feedback always helps, please let me know if you’re having any viewing, navigation or whatever issues and i’ll work them out.
here’s hoping you like the new look and thanks again Mike !