AN AVERAGE FLY FISHERMAN
Just an Average Fly Fisherman
I started Fly Fishing in the mid-seventies on the Wiltshire Avon, and was very lucky, as a member of HM Forces, to be able to fish the stretch owned by the Services Dry Fly Fishing Association (SDFFA). This stretch was managed by the famous Frank Sawyer, one of the best fly fisherman of all time, and inventor of the famous Pheasant Tail Nymph. That remarkable, crystal clear chalk stream, brought to life by Frank Sawyer, taught me that fly fishing has all of the elements associated with hunting game.
Beautiful Scenery and Stealthy Hunting
Far from being a sedentary sport, just sitting and waiting on the river bank, you are mobile, stealthily hunting your fish. And this, in some of the most beautiful scenery that it is possible to imagine. I have been very lucky to have fished in some amazing places. The reason that I started this Blog, was to share my experiences, as an ‘average fly fisherman’ with others. Particularly those just getting started in this, the most rewarding of all types of fishing. I don’t say that lightly, I have experience of Course Fishing, Sea Fishing, including Sea Fly Fishing. For many years, I was an IGFA Certified Fishing Captain and I am a current IGFA World Record Holder. The record is for a rather poisonous fish caught off of the island of La Gomera, unfortunately, not on a fly.
Dry Fly & Nymph
My mentor, when I started Fly Fishing, was a Gentleman called Michael Kitchen. He was, from my perspective, indeed an expert Fly Fisherman. Not only did he cast superbly, he used the flies that he tied himself to continually catch fish, irrespective of the conditions or location. I learned an awful lot from Mike, who taught me the art of Upstream Dry Fly and Nymph Fishing. When ‘nymphing’ we of course used Frank Sawyers Pheasant Tail Nympth or PTN. We had tied these ourselves in the original form without using thread. After many blank weeks on the Avon, I quickly learned the art of ‘stalking’ the fish. I subsequently caught my fair share of brown trout and grayling.
My First Fishing Rod
My first Fly Fishing rod was of course made of the tried and tested GRP or glass reinforced plastic. It was cheap but quite suitable for a novice like me, finding difficulty keeping the fly line in the air. Mike of course had one of the ultra expensive and newfangled carbon fiber rods. These came with a warning not to take them anywhere near electricity pylons. Carbon fiber rods were quite prone to breaking, combined with the initial purchase cost, were out of my reach. To upgrade my fishing rod at a reasonable cost, I built my own split cane rod from a kit. I spent an entire winter building the rod, customizing it with my name and varnishing it to perfection. The end result, even if I say so myself, was pretty good. It was a pity I had chosen the wrong tip action, but didn’t understand that it was important. That being said, I was extremely proud of that rod and persevered with it for many years.
Summer on a Hampshire Fishery
I can recall a hot summers day on a Hampshire fishery, where Mike was teaching me to fish with sub-surface buzzers. He had already caught more than a dozen fish while I had only caught the sun. Mike then decided to concentrate my mind and sat beside me. He instructed me to concentrate on the water above the buzzers and on the line, which I was holding too loose. ‘Did you see that?’ he asked, I of course had seen nothing. Eventually, after missing many fish, I started to see the subtle movements on the water and the almost imperceptible twitch on the line. I was as pleased with the one fish that I did catch as Mike was with his bag full.
Over the years I have been lucky to have fished in England, Wales and Scotland, but also the Catskills in the USA, British Columbia in Canada, the Pyrenees in Spain, Austria and Germany. This year, I will fly fishing in Bavaria, Austria and the Czech Republic. I consider myself a bit of a purest. I prefer Dry Fly & Nymph, seldom resorting to a wet fly or streamer, but even so, it is insufficient to just fish upstream. You don’t catch many fish using the upstream method when fishing a fast flowing river such as the Ilz in Bavaria or the Ybbs in Austria. When fishing rivers, I always return the fish to the water unharmed, much to my wife’s chagrine. Therefore, to keep the peace, and to provide fish for the table, I make regular visits to ‘put and take’ lakes where the fish are bred for the purpose. Although I am not a great lover of eating fish, who could resist fresh trout fillets, cooked in butter and sprinkled with almonds? Even better, hot smoked trout, direct from my smoker, served with brown bread and butter!
I will be writing regular Blogs about my past experiences whilst waiting patiently for the season to commence, when I can Blog about current fishing trips. I will also be reviewing some equipment and providing a few Top Tips.
A Tip from the Seventies:
We Fly Fisherman spend good money on various substances to make our leader sink or float, why not consider using the old methods i.e
LEADER SINK PASTE
Fuller’s earth is a fine clay material in powder form, that has the capability to de-colorize oil or other liquids without chemical treatment. The cost from your local chemist is negligible and a small box will last for years. Just mix a teaspoonful of the powder with washing up liquid until it forms a smooth past. Use this paste to keep your leader sinking and when the paste goes solid, just moisten it with water or saliva to make it usable again.
John, the Silver Fly Fisherman