Sunday, 25 September 2011

Star Pupa

I've had some frustrating sessions this last few days on my river. Very little fly life about - the odd willow fly, but the occasional dense midge hatch, small midge that would last for a few minutes, then all is dead again.

No fish coming up, but, during the midge hatch, there was the odd 'bubble' at the surface - not a rise as such. I am interpreting this this season as the fish feeding on pupa sub surface, and occasionally this takes them into the film.

I tried just about everything, but without much result. Yesterday, two fish (and one a sprat! lol) in three hours fishing wasn't unusual for me this last few days.

This morning I had a play at the vice, trying to tie up something that might pass for a midge pupa - at least in a back alley on a dark, moonless night.

Small Midge Pupa Olive

Hook: Verivas Wave #22 Thread: Olive. Small gold bead. Overbody: Shredded carpet backing.

I would have gone for a #24 if I had had any.

The hole in the bead was too big, in the sense that it would slide over the hook eye, so I had to build up a thread stopper. I tied these in olive, yellow, black and cream - yellow / cream seem to match the colours of the midge I have seen hatching these last few days.

The necessity of the thread stopper got me thinking. The other evening I was talking to Karl Humphries (fly fisher and tyer of some renown!) about a story I'm working on at the moment. Rather cheekily, I asked him for any advice regarding these frustrating sessions, and we got talking fly tying in general. Karl was talking about tying in 'hotspots', and that in his opinion they should be at the head of the fly. Given the need for this thread stopper on this midge pattern, I thought that here was the ideal opportunity to try out the theory. So I put on my sunglasses and got out the Lureflash:

Small Midge Pupa Hot
Yellow underbody this time.

 Went out onto the river and fished a team of two, with the punk fly on the point. Now conditions weren't as they had been this last few days. They were similar inasmuch as there was very little fly life, and no rising fish, but the midge hatches were sporadic rather than in the density of the last few days.

But, the flies caught fish. The punk fly caught me three before I lost it - and the only one I had with me. But, the others caught for me too. Satisfyingly, on two ocassions, I saw fish 'bubbling' at the surface as they had been doing in the dense midge hatches, and by pulling this pattern quickly through their general location it caught fish.

So, wouldn't go so far as to say problem solved, but I feel happy that problem is identified - which is half the battle! The 'hotspot' pattern was interesting though - near instant results. Will be trying that again. I suspect today would have been another very frustrating day without these flies, so must be on the right lines.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Back to the flow

After my brief foray to the still water, it was with some relief that yesterday I donned my waders, stepped back in to the fray and went for a stroll up the river. I even remembered to take my fishing rod with me.

I had a surprisingly good couple of hours in the afternoon, given that the water levels were so high. Reasonably clear though. Not much sign of fly life, but there were a few willow fly about, cranking around and depositing their eggs.

I caught on goldhead hare's ear, the snowshoe Hare's emerger that was new pattern to me (as mentioned in last post) and an elk hair emerger pattern I've been playing around with. Here are the first three:

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On one stretch though, a good old Sawyer's PTN was picking up fish one after another.

Think I must have made double figures in the end, but hey - who's counting? ;-)

Lost one decent fish though, soon after hooking up, which no one likes to do. I'd guess a pound plus.

Good session though, and a nice bonus - unexpected.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Book extract: Bob Wyatt

Via Midcurrent: An interesting take on Catch and Release from Bob Wyatt's forthcoming book (2012) 'The educated trout and other fly-fishing myths'.

I like Bob Wyatt - he cuts us fly fishers and tyers down to size a bit. He knows the real reason some of us like to think of trout as being clever - it is because it makes us seem cleverer if we catch them, or gives us a good excuse if we don't.

He advocates 'suggestive' patterns, rather than attempting a precise imitation (which is clearly an impossible task anyway!)

And talking of his suggestive patterns, I nicked one of his ideas and fished it today - and caught trout with it too. The bit of his pattern I appropriated was to use Snowshoe Hare's Foot as winging material. You can see him tie a pattern using this wing here, (from Hatches Magazine).

Mine didn't float too well - fishing on the waterlogged side of damp! lol But, I was fishing it close enough in to see the fish taking the fly just beneath the surface so I stuck with it to take three fish with it. But not entirely satisfactory. Will be trying it again though.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

More 'trout' than 'salmon'....

I've recently heard that I am going to be writing for Trout & Salmon Magazine. To say that I am rather chuffed about that would be an under-statement.... ;-)

Oh well, there goes the neighbourhood! lol

Errwood Reservoir

Last week I had one of my infrequent urges to fish a still water - I am usually a strictly river kind of guy. When I have fished still water, and caught fish, I've always felt it to be more by luck than judgement, and I thought it was time to address that.

So I headed up into the hills above Buxton, Derbyshire, to Errwood Reservoir, where Ian Gould, Secretary of Errwood Fly Fishing club and who knows a thing or two about fishing, had kindly offered to show me the ropes.

I've interviewed Ian, and he gives some really good pointers to anglers either new or relatively new to reservoir fishing, or who quite fancies giving it a go but hasn't yet got around to it. If this last is you, then you no longer have any excuses. The article is scheduled to go in Countryman's Weekly on 5th October. Ian is a great bloke with great advice to offer - and he puts it over well too.

Ian though, shock horror, does not tie his own flies. He showed me a Shipman's Buzzer he'd bought and I think I actually shuddered. It was so like a cigar I wasn't sure whether he was going to cast it or light it up. I nodded along and smiled of course, humouring him, but confident in the knowledge that that fly couldn't catch a rain drop in a thunderstorm.

My illusions were somewhat shattered when a few minutes later, Ian was landing his seventh double digit fish of the season - a rainbow trout of quite awesome proportions. Needless to say, and no doubt purely to spite me, it had found the Shipman's Buzzer simply irresistable.

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This fish had clearly been reading the wrong fly tying books, and unperturbed, I tied up a selection of Shipman's Buzzers in the style of the river flies I usually tie.

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I've given these to Ian and asked him to fish them and let me know how he goes on with them. So, the challenge is on.

It was a good afternoon Ian, I learnt a lot, cheers, and hopefully we got a good story out of it too.

I've also agreed to reciprocate and take him grayling fishing this winter. If he out-fishes me on the river too, then I shall sulk.

Post Script: No fish were harmed during the making of this production - a little shaken up maybe, but the monster was returned fit and well to the murky depths, hopefully to read up on what a proper fishing fly should look like.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Just heard today...

Just heard today that I am having my second story published in Waterlog Magazine, published by Medlar Press. This is a beautifully produced quarterly magazine, well worth a look if you get the chance.

The story is called 'Fishing in the cold' and will be going in their Winter's edition. It is about grayling fishing in - you guessed it - winter. I very much hope my stories will find a regular slot in Waterlog now.

I am getting more and more writing work now, which is great. However, the irony is not lost on me that it was fly fishing that got me writing for magazines, but now the magazine writing is such that it is leaving me with less time for fishing!

Oh well, a case of being careful what you wish for...


Been playing around with a stonefly pattern this season, and it is has been catching very well for me.

Tungsten Head Stonefly Nymph

I'm tying it on #12s and #14s, and it is a tungsten bead. With that very sparse body it sinks like a stone! lol It has often been taken on the drop, so quite what that says about imitating the behaviour of the naturals I'm not at all sure! I'm also retrieving it quite quickly so it doesn't snag on the bed of what is a small stream, so again, quite what this says about imitating the natural I don't know. But the one thing I do know, is that it is catching.

But, there I am with my fly fishers / tyers ego, happily thinking that I am imitating the stonefly, when in actual fact, the fish are probably taking it for something completely different. But, taking it they are.

I'm tying the bronze mallard flank shorter in the fishing flies btw - about to the hook bend. f

This was from the first cast the other day:


Just as I was unhooking that fish, the camera fell from my top pocket and landed with a splash right beside it. Ooops.

The fish darted off, and cursing loudly, I retrieved the Fuji Finepix and gave it a good wipe down.

Moving upstream, I was rather surprised to discover that the camera fired up when I switched it on, so I took a shot of the river.


Apologies for the distortion, but please note, that is genuine Peak District river water you are looking at there. Perhaps I should add - there are easier ways to obtain interesting filter effects than dunking your camera in the river for thirty seconds. But I am pleased to say that after a couple of days thorough drying out, the camera has made a full recovery.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

My Landrover

My Landrover by GlassJet
My Landrover, a photo by GlassJet on Flickr.

Parked up on the tops, where I run my salukis.

The trout and the bee

I was in Bakewell, Derbyshire the other day, hanging over the bridge and watching the trout that grow big and fat by the willing hand of curious tourists visiting this busy market town. These pampered fish seem to thrive on a diet of discarded bread, cake and chips and, it would seem after my recent experience, all washed down with the occasional bumble bee.

A trout eating a bumble bee is something I had never previously seen. But it happened, right there, before my very eyes.

The bumble bee came into my line of vision, struggling to escape the surface film. I saw a rainbow trout of a pound or so spot it, approach it hesitantly, hang just beneath it and then take it, but without much conviction. A second later, its hesitancy apparently justified, it spat it.

No sooner had it done this than a much bigger fish saw what happened, darted in scattering the smaller fish and took the bee in a big, positive gulp.

Whether it was just territorially asserting itself to the smaller fish, or bumble bee features as a normal part of its diet, or indeed if it is at all common for a bee to end up in the river in the first place I don't know. It was an entertaining diversion though.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Kizzie's Mayfly Emerger

Kizzie's Mayfly Emerger
Kizzie's Mayfly Emerger

This is tied on a Partridge Klinkhamer Extreme 15BNX #14. Pearsall's primrose silk well waxed, a few pheasant tail barb tips as a tail, 5lb Mono coloured brown with a pentone pen as a rib, and a mid-dun genetic cock hackle tied as a reverse parachute.

The light dubbing is mostly my saluki bitch Kizzie's fur, mixed with a pinch of yellow and green seal's fur. I've used Kiz's fur for a few flies now, and it seems to work well -we've caught a lot of trout together! It is very soft to work with and easy to dub. She often sleeps under my fly tying desk when I am tying, so all I have to do is reach down and take a pinch. She doesn't seem to mind...


Have to see how the new pattern works.... hope it's not too good though - could easily end up with a bald saluki!

More flowers

The riverbank and the wetland area beside it is exploding into colour now....

Marsh Marigold:
Marsh Marigold

Red Campion
Red Campion

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Fishing in the rain

Not a title I was expecting to be writing under after the last few weeks - (months?) - but had a couple of interesting hours out on the river this afternoon, under dark skies and an almost constant drizzle.

After a prolonged dry spell, a lot of rain has suddenly come down in the last 36 hours or so, and the temperature has fallen markedly. I fish a small, rain fed stream, only a couple of miles from its source, so the level has come up quickly and the water coloured too.

I got into the river at just gone four, and on top of the drizzle there was a breeze coming down stream. No obvious signs of fish, and not much fly life about either. There was the ubiquitous midge, though not in numbers, and after I'd been in a few minutes, I did notice that there were a few upwings on the water, depositing eggs, but the fish weren't taking them. Sometimes, I don't think these trout read the rule books.

So, first off, went for a weighted PTN on the point, with one of my midge emerger patterns I am playing with at the moment, tied with the backing of my carpet as a pupal case, on a single dropper. 7X tippet, and the theory being that the bit of weight on the point would get the whole lot out there and give me a fighting chance of staying more or less in contact with the emerger.

Hatching Midge

As it happens, whether or not I stayed in contact with the fly didn't matter a jot, as for the first time this year, my scrap of carpet failed to bring up a fish.

I tried a couple more combinations to no effect, and I was beginning to think it was not going to be my lucky day.

But, before giving in, I decided to cheat and tie on a Gold Bead Hare's Ear. Sure enough, this started producing fish.

Working upstream, I reached a big river bend, where the flows and eddies can get really interesting. Took a couple more on the gold bead, but then fancied a change. I'd heard a couple of reckless takes, the kind where the fish splash back into the water, and on a whim, I thought I'd give a try to a crane fly pattern I was working on a couple of years ago now.

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It is a parachute pattern, and I put it out and started to twitch it about. And it brought up a trout! But I missed it. Seven or eight more casts about the bend and it brought up two more, both of which I missed. But hell, it was bringing them up, and just when I was thinking how I must be accurately mimicking the struggles of a crane fly caught in the surface film with mere flicks of my fingers, I noticed a mayfly drifting downstream, then skittering about as she deposited her eggs.

Ah, change of tactic required. But, I had no mayfly patterns with me. I did have some simple sedge though, and I've heard people say that they have successfully fished these for mayfly.


So, I thought I'd give it a go. Biggest I had it in was a #14, but truncated bodies never seem to put off a trout, and so it was in this case. Skittered the fly about, and BANG! The trout hit them hard. Caught three this way, but must have missed a dozen takes. At this spot, it is essentially fishing downstream and I always find it hard to time downstream dry takes successfully.

I think what was happening with the crane fly pattern, is that it was the movement acting as the trigger, rather than the form of the fly. I suspect the simple sedge was all the more effective, because it had at least a nod towards the silhouette of the mayfly, and combined with the movement the trout duly committed.

Not totally mad with the crane fly btw - they are about very early this year here, though I didn't see any today.

Moved upstream, and on another run it was back on with the gold head, and five fish from six casts then I stopped.

Further upstream and under dense tree cover now, what looked like a likely spot didn't produce a fish. The air was thick with small midge coming off the water though, so I guessed they must be feeding off the pupa and tied on the copper head pupa pattern, again tied from a bit of my carpet, that complements the emerger pattern.

Copper-head Olive Midge Pupa

It produced another couple of bright little trout, which was nice. Jury still out on this pattern though - not really fished it that much.

It was an enjoyable couple of hours. I could easily have gone on, working my way upstream, but it was six o clock by now, and the hounds were calling me. They need their fun too.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Greater Stitchwort

DSCF1366 by GlassJet
DSCF1366, a photo by GlassJet on Flickr.

When these begin to flower, it is a sure sign for me that hot, summer days are on their way. The petals really are whiter than white - they demand the sun to make them dazzle.


Walking the hounds along the river the other day, and children had been playing. They had been fishing too, but fishing for the old pottery and glass shards that can be found like jewels in between the gravel of the bed.


I've no idea how long these pottery fragments have been in the river, but worn by water over the years, all their rough edges have become smooth, and the colours taken on a beautiful, muted character, more water-colour than oil.



I used to collect these shards myself, when fishing, and send them to a friend who made jewellery from them.

The irony is, if I caught someone now throwing a bottle into the river and breaking it, I would call it an act of vandalism. Yet after a hundred years of water-wear and grit, it becomes a thing of beauty, a jewel for a child.


But what a great way for a kid to spend a morning, and what a superb resource is a river to its town.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The hounds have taken over the asylum

DSCF1362 by GlassJet
DSCF1362, a photo by GlassJet on Flickr.

Have they really? don't know what you mean, I hadn't noticed... ;)

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The urban river

I live beside the river, it is just across the lane from me. I can hear it now and if I look out of the window I can see the sunlight glinting off it where the flow is breaking around stones.

That might sound like I live in some country idyll, but I don't. I live in a town in the Peak District, UK. It is quite a busy town that was built on its mills, its textile industry - built on its rivers. No river, and there would have been no power for the mills and there would have been no town.

This urban river cuts the town in two. It can have a hard time of it, the river. There are not just the natural hazards to contend with, like the last harsh winter and flooding that is eating its way at its crumbling banks. There are the other, man-made hazards too. We have fiddled with it for centuries now, from pumping up its weirs to chucking in our rubbish.

I was talking to the fly-tyer and fisher Roy Christie the other day about this. Roy has done a fair bit of urban river restoration in his times. As he says, everything ends up in the river. And so it is with mine.

Road signs...

Bottles and bags...

Traffic cones... and sometimes even ducks!

But it is not all bad news. I've had some beautiful little brown trout out of this stretch, that runs alongside the factory:


I have written a story about this which appears in the current Spring 2011 edition of Waterlog Magazine. It is called 'The Urban Angler'. Briefly, despite the short-comings of fishing my industrial - or post-industrial stream, I would choose to do so over the pristine and famous Derbyshire waters that may be less obviously contaminated with the results of human activity.

I like the constant reminder of human endeavour as I am fishing, of necessity, the remnants of the industrial past that surrounds me. It reminds me of why I love fly fishing so much myself - that hunting instinct, a different facet of that same struggle, that need to survive, to eat.

Waterlog, Spring 2011

Waterlog, Spring 2011

Take a look if you get the chance. Waterlog is a very beautifully produced publication, and I am very pleased to be in it.

Did anybody see...?

Salukis by GlassJet
Salukis, a photo by GlassJet on Flickr.

OK - which way did the cat go?

A beautiful spring morning which is more like mid-summer, a good hard run and a cool-off in the river - what's not to like?

Monday, 18 April 2011

Hatching Midge Pupa

Olive Para Hatching Midge

Here is a fly that first came into my mind as mentioned in the first post of this blog.

A couple of days after writing that post, I was watching a trout energetically feeding at and just below the surface of the river. I was watching for a long time, and afterwards went down for a closer examination of what was causing all the excitement.

It was clearly midge pupa and hatching midge that had got this trout so excited, and I went for a play at the vice to try and knock something up.

As it happens, my hounds play pouncing games in the house, and where there is a join in the carpet, the back of the carpet is starting to stray into strips. I've had my eye on this for a fly tying material for a while now, and this pupal body might just be the perfect use. Such is synchronicity.

This hatching midge is tied on a Dohiku #16, with olive underbody and my shredded carpet overbody. The hackle is a mid dun genetic cock, and bound with 5X tippet monoloop.

I've fished it a few times now and it is proving extremely effective during a midge hatch, inducing quick, positive takes and bringing up fish where none were previously rising. sometimes simple is best.

Going to go smaller with it next, and colours to match, of course. What a stroke of good luck that the hounds have trashed my carpet!


Butterburr by GlassJet
Butterburr, a photo by GlassJet on Flickr.

The butterburr is starting to come up now in the wetland beside the river. The pryramid flower spikes first, followed by the leaves that just seem to get bigger and bigger as the summer goes on.

Butterburr are put on this planet for two reasons: the first is to use the leaves for shade on hot summer days, like handily positioned bankside parasols.

The second is for children to use the leaves as boats, put insect passengers in them, and float them downstream and out for far off adventures at sea.

Providing they don't get in the way of my cast while they're doing it, I'm cool with that.

Sunday, 17 April 2011


DSCF1332 by GlassJet
DSCF1332, a photo by GlassJet on Flickr.

More flowers - the hawthorn is coming out. In the Derbyshire Dales in the fields and on the hillsides, beginning to look like dollops of luscious ice-cream... :-)

Morning routine

Spring is really getting into its stride now. I walk beside the river I fish every morning, with my three salukis, and I love to see the season progress, the flowers coming into bloom, the ground cover thickening into a shroud of secrecy.

I could only now confidently identify this as an umbellifer.

There was a time when I would be out in the field with my hand lens and wild flower book to sort them all apart, but these days the only one I can identify with absolute confidence is sweet cicely, as it fills the summer days with the delicious scent of aniseed. Actually I think the photo is cow parsley, but umbellifer is good enough for me, these days.

And celendine, and wood anenome:

And here is my hound, returning more than a little shame-facedly, from another run on a cat. He stands on the edge of the river bank, scanning the field opposite that ends in a steep bankside, scanning for signs of feline life.

If he sees one, he is off - taking the river in a bound, and all I can do is stand and watch as he scorches across the field and crashes through the undergrowth of the bankside. He has never caught one yet, and with a hundred and fifty yard start, it would have to be a particularly stupid cat if it were to be so.

Then he comes back at a trot. He knows he shouldn't, I know he shouldn't, but he loves to run and I love to watch him. Such explosive power, you can only stand and stare and wonder at what it must feel like to move at such speed, with such confidence, to be so in your own element on land and in air.

He is saluki crossed with a greyhound, by the way.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Spring morning

There is no sight to quicken the fly fisher’s pulse more than that of a rising fish. It demands the attention, sharpens the mind, makes one minutely aware of one’s environment, searching it, questioning it, eliminating unnecessary data, picking out only that which might help that fly fisher catch his fish.

If he only had his rod with him.

Fishing or not, if the fly fisher sees the ring of a rising fish he will catch it, if only in his mind. He will determine the lie of the trout, the speed of the water, its colour and depth, the insect that had tempted that fish up to break its cover.

Then having determined all this, he will take out his imaginary fly box and select from it a fly fit to fool the feeding trout, and tie it on to the finest tippet the river will allow. Twelve feet long for a delicate presentation.

Then, as if by magic, in his hand will appear the perfect rod for this small stream, and he will watch the rise, time the rise, then cast a line so delicately that the fly lands gossamer on the water, a siren call to that feeding trout.

Then the wait. The tenter-hook wait. Then he just sees the nose of the trout approaching his fly and in an event faster than his thought the trout has sipped and taken his fly, and the fly fisher has lifted his rod and the fish is on. The deception complete. All is release.

This morning, walking my three saluki hounds beside the small stream I fish, I saw the first trout of the year rise.

Just as I caught it (it was on a small midge pupa pattern) one of my hounds saw, on the other side of the field on the other side of the river, a cat, stalking mice in the grass. With two bounds he was across the stream and was off, muscle and sinew effortlessly straining, relishing in the purpose of his pursuit.

Just a Spring morning, and we were all at it.