Monday, February 27, 2017

Sedge Pupa Nymph

It is at this stage of life for the caddis when it emerges from it’s gravely case on the bed of the river and floats to the surface to become an adult, that can be a tricky time for anglers to match the hatch and present the nymph to the fish just the way they want it. 

At this point in the caddis fly’s life they are very vulnerable to being eaten by trout because they are simply floating around, often time suspended right in the fishes feed zone. With our weighted nymphs fished up stream we run the risk of fishing our flies below the fish and there so resulting in few takes. However I found that fishing the nymphs with less weight and taking the down stream approach we can put the fly just were it need to be. 

Facing down stream make a cast to the left of right at around 90 degrees or less, the small bead will help the fly penetrate down until the current of the river begins to sweep it up into the waiting fishes feed zone. Often if there is no take on the sweep allow the nymph to hang down stream for a moment and I like to lift and drop the rod tip several times to allow the fly to move up and down in the water to encourage a take form a fish. This can be a very productive approach and here is a dressing that I have used for this in the past:

I begin by placing in the vise a Dohiku 611 size 16,14, 12 depending on the size of the caddis in the river, this nymph is on a size 16. With a 2mm copper bead I tie in some fine clear mono and olive body stretch. 

Then add in some olive Antron wool that will be used for the body and bring your thread back up short of the bead.

To create the body split the wool down the middle so you now have two strands and after teasing out some fine cream dubbing place it between the two strands. Following this bring the two strands back together and twist them creating a dubbing brush, tease out some dubbing and wind it up the body in touching turns. Before you move on the the next step brush the dubbing downwards to the under body of the nymph. 

Then pull up the skin over the body and rib it with the clear mono to create a segmented look to the fly, cut away the mono but not the skin. Before folding it back brush down any fibers from the dubbing that may have been trapped in the ribbing. 
Now tie in two hackle quill from a grizzle hackle backwards and add one natural grey partridge and one dyed olive or yellow partridge hackle as seen here. 
For the thorax create another dubbing brush with you thread, placing some caddis green and dark olive fine dubbing in the brush as spin it well. 

Wined up the dubbing brush till you are at the bead head and pull over one partridge hackle at a time and tie in. Following this pull over the remaining body stretch and secure in before trimming off the waste. 
To complete the fly again brush down all the thorax dubbing and the legs from the hackles, using permanent brown and black markers add some touched on the skin over the back of the fly to create the molted look of the natural insect. 

When you are tying this nymph don't be afraid to experiment with the colours of the dubbing, I also find light creams or yellow's and orange thorax's quite good on different rivers, try and get a look at the naturals and this will give you the best colour combinations for that river. 
I hope you enjoy fishing and tying this fly and thanks for reading my blog, if you would like any other information please feel free to drop me a line on my contact details here and if you are looking for Dohiku hooks or top quality Tungsten Beads feel free to give me a shout for the best prices, or if you would like and of these or other patterns tied for the coming season my contact detail are on the right of the page. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

How Can I Improve My Fishing & Competition Fishing?

I ask my self this question probably more than any other question fishing related through the winter months, I would say a lot of anglers might do the same. Now another season is upon us for Brown Trout fishing on our lakes and rivers and the competition dates are rolling in. I make the usual personal promises to my self to try harder this year and improve on my efficiency when competing. The lessons taught to me through the tough sessions last season should be all addressed and corrections made to ensure those simple errors I made wont be the reasons for bad scores this time around and man o man I did some learning last year.

For me I spend a lot of time during the winter months analyzing my approaches, techniques, set ups, organisation and making adjustments to improve all of the same; I theorize this as 'systems and processes'.

I have found through many years of learning from fly fishing and in particular competition fly fishing that it is very beneficial to break down all aspects of your fishing and take every detail in to consideration to aid your efficiency and performance, let me explain about my fore mentioned theory.
Process are aspects of your fly fishing approaches that all add up to the holistic way you fish, so for example processes can be wading, casting, nymph presentation, hooking fish, landing fish, organizing of your chest pack or wading jacket, beat management, among others. In order to complete and process you have a system to do it, even if you haven't recognized it or think about it you do.

For example the process in which you put on your waders has a system, you put them on by putting you feet in to the neoprene sock, for some the first thing is to put on woolly socks first then into the waders followed by then putting on your boots and lacing them up, then you clip the belt or put on your brace ect. If you think about it there is a individual system there we all use to complete the process, though it might not be the same for everyone but a system all the same.

Lets look at some of the systems that I have tended to focus on over the last few winters, netting fish and presenting them to a controller is a process and when it is broken down into the systems I can then make adjustments to be more efficient and be more in control when completing the process, ie landing and handing the fish to the controller and getting back out to catch more.

Here are some point I considered for this:
  • What netting material my net is made of ,will my nymphs get caught up when a fish is landed thus slowing me down when I go back out fishing. I either buy or make a net to prevent my nymphs from getting tangled up. 
  • I also added a 20 cm piece of coloured fabric into the base of the net so any fish I am sure dose not make the size I don't have to make the journey to my controller to find out it is short. 
  • Is how I hang the net on me in an efficient manner, is my magnet strong enough so the net does not keep falling off my back, is the handle in a accessible location and in the same place every time so I know where it is and I don't have to reach for it allowing me to present my net to a hooked fish quickly and effortlessly. 
  • Is the handle long enough so when I am netting a fish do I have to reach or stretch to it depending on my leader length. I measure from my rod hand to the hooked fish and ensure the handle is long enough and I have a mark on either my line or leader so when it reaches my casting hand I know the fish is at the right distance to be netted and  I am not reaching with either hand and run the risk of losing the fish. 
All these potential issues I would consider when looking at my netting process and make the necessary adjustments to the systems in advance so the frustration of time loss and dropping fish due to bad netting practice in a session is at a minimum.

Another area I have spent some time pondering over is the process of casting nymphs, accuracy, keeping contact at all times and presentation of my nymphs.

A lot of anglers use the popular brands of nymphing leaders and they are very successful on them, but for me I like to be a bit more three dimensional with my leader systems to try and improve the processes mentioned before.
I make my own leaders for several reasons to improve this process:
  1. I can use formulas to build the leader that suits the way I fish, cast, reach and strike fish.
  2. I can put extra spring in the leaders by boiling them to allow me fish lesser diameters with fewer break offs and makes the leader more supple. 
  3. I can again make different leaders up not just for lengths but also some more aggressive and progressive than others to aid my casting in different conditions. 
  4. I can add in what I call a locator section up the leader firstly to train my eye to find the thin indicator immediately and secondly to allow me to fish different depths as I make my way through the beat, using the locator as the indicator when I move into deeper water. 
These are all points that I have put in place to make the process of casting and contact much more effective when I am nymphing. Another important component to this process is of course the rod and for me I like to have a soft and the lightest possible rod I can get. This with the spring in the leaders and good contact with the nymphs allows me to fish confidently with 0.08 tippet and therefore have the potential of catching more fish.
Also I have considered the process of carrying my gear around with me on the river, I use a chest pack so when I am moving about everything is tied up neatly; it used to drive me crazy when I wore a vest and it was swinging all about with tippet spools and zingers going all over the place.  I also spent some time thinking over my fly boxes and organized them in my chest pack. I know exactly where every nymph or dry is so I waste no time looking for what I need at anytime and with some adjustments made to the pack i am able to carry two made up rods that don't interfere with me fishing or casting. 

Some people or actually a good few people think I am a bit mad but for me I enjoy analyzing all the different aspects of my fishing and making improvements in areas that I feel I need it. For me this important to evolving as an competitive angler and there are always improvements we can make in our process and systems we use to fly fish, I also find it very enjoyable when I see the results of the changes I make and I have eliminated one of those annoying things that keep happening during my time on the river. Of course we cant always get it right and some things are out of our control, but we can remove some of the issues that arise through this thought process.  

I never pretend to know a lot about fishing, and I have a lot to learn yet through the lessons handed out by the rivers and fish we search for, but have I always believed that if you focus on the smallest details and make improvements as part of your learning then all those small details will add up to extra fish on your card. 
If you have now joined the group of people that think I am a little cracked then well and good, but I do hope you can take some understanding from this post on looking at different, small aspects (systems) of you approach to the process you use in you fishing and begin to see the results. 
When I am asked to give some pointers to someone on fly fishing or competition fishing the three most important words I say are: Details...Details....Details 

Thanks for reading 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Spring Time Dry Fly-fishing on Rivers

It wont be long now till the fresh smells of spring fill the breeze along the river banks, and for a lot of angler this time of the year they firstly chose nymphs, spiders or wet flies to lure their catch, and indeed they can be very productive for the awaking hungry trout. However there is always the opportunity for some early season dry fly fishing during the mid day in the spring sunshine, which can be very entertaining and productive. 
Some seasons ago in some magazine I read an article on a fly that was a useful dry for bringing up spring time fish on the blind. 

"The Jingler"  was described as a versatile pattern that enticed hungry trout to break the surface during the early parts of the season. Intrigued by the attractive and simplistic look of the fly I tied several and sure enough it produced some real sport on my local river in March and April. 

Another aspect of this fly is that not only fishing it directly upstream will it catch you fish but it can even be more effective swinging or scattering across the stream, as do the natural olives at this time of year when been blown by the breeze. It would be good to remember also that allowing the fly to swing and come around down stream can also be worth a go for a fish who would prefer a spider pattern type fly just under the surface.

This is a fly that should be in every anglers box heading out on the rivers this spring, and don't be stuck to the one colour, vary the hackle colours and body material for a range to suit all the trouts hungry eyes. It is a simple fly to tie and the original has the hackles protruding over the eye of the hook in almost an upside down umbrella look, but the hackle straight up or slightly backwards will still do the trick, and keep the hackles sparsely don't I would not be inclined to have too many turns of hackle. 

Hook: Size 12-18
Thread: Olive 
Tail: Light Coq De Leon
Body: Olive Stripped Quill (I also used olive thread)
Hackle: First natural red game the natural grey partridge in front 

I hope you enjoy tying these patterns and enjoy fishing them even more then I have had. If you would like any of these flies or any other patterns of you choice you can find my contact details on the right side of the blog. Thank you for reading and tight lines.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Winter Grayling on the Welsh Dee River

I am not long home from my third trip to fish the fabulous River Dee in Llangollen and Cowen this Winter. I have had some cracking sport on this venue over the last number of years and if you were thinking of going fishing next winter to pass the closed months this fabulous river will worth considering. It was way back in 2000 when I first wet a fly on the River Dee, I had the pleasure of staying with Gwilym Hughes in Cowen and he was the person that first introduced me into up stream nymphing. Gwilym traveled that same year to the World Championships in Sweden with the Irish team and after his mentoring for those two weeks I was well and truly hooked on nymphing for Trout and Grayling, a lot of the way I fish today is grounded in the approaches and thinking that Gyilym passed on to me over this period.
The first trip this year was a wash out, this is always a risk, and we ended up having only a few hours fishing; but we did still managed some good fish. The second was for the Hanak European Grayling Festival which we did really well in and the river fished fantastic as it always dose in good conditions. For the latest trip, the river was spot on again but the cold breeze would make changing nymphs or setting up very difficult so extra caution was spent on not getting into tangles, no harm to practice this way.  Though the run of fish was not quite as large as we have experienced in December but still a good sporting size on average .
We normally do a two day trip flying at 6am from Dublin to Manchester with Ryanair, we book the car with Avis and its a one hour drive to the hotel which is The Hand Hotel in Llangollen at 9 am.  After some breakfast we pick up our permits in the local hardware located just around the corner from our accommodation and we are on the river for 10.30 am.
We began the first day on the Golf Course beat just out side the town, one we know quite well and has always produced good numbers for us; today was no different and we had a lot of quality fish to our nets. We stayed around this location for the majority of the day as there is an abundance of water to explore, and the days this time of year are short so fishing till 4pm is usually all the cold you can stick.
After a bite to eat and a few beers by the fire in the hotel we headed to bed and looked forward to our second day. This time we traveled down to Cowen and got our day tickets in the local newsagents, just in the square of the town for a very reasonable 20 pounds, Crogen 2 beat was our destination. Togged out we set off up the river and it wasn't long before we were in the pods of Graying catching them in good numbers and sizes.
Our preferred method for the Grayling on the Dee is down stream nymphing, using a heavy weighted nymph on the point and follow it with two either shrimps, orange and pink we find best,  or as it was for this session two Gammuras nymphs and as soon as the nymphs swing around and begin to lift off the bottom the fish will attack. We found this time on occasions once the nymphs lifted off the bottom and when there was no take if you just allow your flies to drop back down again you will get the hook up on the second lift. The method needs some adjusting during the different months of the winter as we have discovered the Grayling in December seem to sit closer to the angler that in January which means you have to discover the distance they are in front of you in order to put your nymphs in the zone.

After we finished the second day we packed up the rental car and set off for Manchester airport to fly back home leaving at 10pm and I would normally be back in my house around 12.45, depending on where you live. On average the trip out side the evening meal and a few beers will cost around 150 euros for the flights, car, permits, and hotel, this is traveling mid week of course I am sure the weekend will have higher rates. 
A regret I have is that over the last 17 years sense I first visited this river it has only been in the last few seasons that I have gone back, when it should of been a regular occurrence over the winter months. But I plan to make here a few times every winter to come, it is a cheap, easy and well worth it trip. I am alos relishing the chance to lead our the T.A.F.I National team here in 2018 as their captain in the Fips Mouche World Fly Fishing Championships, one I will be hoping we will have a say in.  
I would recommend this venue to any angler that is looking for something a bit different for the winter months rather than the rainbow lakes.
If you would like any information in relation to fishing the Dee you can look up the two fore mentioned clubs who have really good websites where you can get all in information needed in relation to fishing, permits, beats and water levels. Also if you need any info on the traveling aspect please feel free to drop me a line and ill help you out as best as I can.
I hope you have enjoyed reading the blog and feel free to drop me a line here with any questions you may have.