Posts Tagged ‘Brassie’

Journey to the centre of the universe.

April 17, 2012

Rhodes in the distant Eastern Cape is an enigma, it offers some of the best fly fishing you could possibly hope to find, but of course that comes with a corollary. Over 700 kilometres of fishable water in the immediate surrounds, clean bed rock and crystal clear waters on the right days, but at the same time the place seems to be cursed by the weather Gods. The town has a permanent population of some 25 people, it is a long way from anywhere and no matter what you do you are in for hours of driving and a good amount of that on a dirt road. The journey isn’t enhanced by endless “Stop and Go” road-works, which have been interrupting traffic for the better part of the last decade. The place is thousands of metres up on the borders of Lesotho meaning that it is frequently beset with extremes of weather. Snow, gale force winds, hail and frozen rain, droughts, floods you name it you can get it in Rhodes and more than a few of the above in the same day.

Up here the sheep have thick woollen coats for the same reasons that you may want one, it can be frigid or hot on virtually any day of the year and there is little to be done to predict things. Within spitting distance is Tiffendel South Africa’s only remotely reliable ski resort, just to put things into perspective. No doubt the vagaries of the weather and the dirt road, the distances and the heritage status have prevented this location from becoming yet another fly fishing Riviera, so don’t expect the “My house is bigger than your house” competition and thank goodness for that. This is a place where men are men, sheep are nervous and fishermen, well they are hard-core.

The fishing, most of it under the auspices of The Wild Trout Association, is a fickle mistress and more than a few people have travelled for hours and burned up their annual leave only to find themselves trapped in town by snow or flooding or perhaps sun-baked and twitching flies through intermittent stagnant pools after months of no rain.

To be frank I have always rather written it off, it is just too far and just too risky and the chances of getting caught out by the variations of climate and altitude make a trip there the piscatorial equivalent of putting all your funds on a single number and spinning the roulette wheel, in short a gamble

But of course as with gambling there is always the chance of hitting the jackpot and based on the past week in the centre of the universe I am seriously considering getting some Lotto tickets.

I was invited to join Gavin and Sharland Urquhart in the small town where they have recently set up a second home. An early morning start, a flight and a five-hour drive represented pretty much the most direct route. To get there any faster you need to be living in a pretty rural environment already, as said, it may be the centre of the universe but it is miles from anywhere.

The “Centre of the Universe” tag apparently comes from people spinning in inebriated state around a pole at Walkerbout’s , the pub, accommodation and centre of social gatherings. Walkerbout’s is required stop over on arrival and departure as well as the place to share fishing tales, learn the state of the water and celebrate or commiserate with fellow piscators. The place has enough paraphernalia on its walls to provide some interest through a weeklong flood or drought and more than one fisherman has killed time here, drinking and staring at the endless knickknacks, drawings, flies and caps which pass for décor in a rural pub.

People come to Rhodes for one of two reasons; to do something or do nothing and many of the “something” people are there to fish, although it has to be said that it is a pretty neat place to do nothing as well.

On arrival word in the bar was that the Bell (the nearest stream running right through town), was running a tad high and a little coloured but the prediction was for fair weather and dropping water. The distances involved mean that, no matter what, you are likely to have a night’s troubled sleep, it is hard to get there in time to actually fish on the first day so chewing the fat and listening in on fishing conversations is virtually mandatory as a prelude to wetting a line. (You need to drop in to book water anyway, but that is hardly onerous). All in all your first evening it is pretty much the fishing equivalent of foreplay.

After a deep sleep filled with dreams of trout and endless waters the morning dawned dull but not cold and we headed out for the first foray. A quick recce suggested that maybe today was one to play with different tactics so we carried two rods between us. One rigged for “normal” upstream dry fly and nymph fishing and the other with pure mono for some extreme nymphing. Turns out that despite a few takes on the dry and dropper rig the mono was the winning formula in the slightly turbid waters and in technical terms we “Klapped them”.. Apart from numbers I hooked into a monster estimated at five pounds plus but my partner had circumnavigated a tree and was a long way off with the net attached to her vest, so an unintentional long distance release (LDR) meant that the trout remained unmeasured and haunting my dreams.

Day two I was on my own on the upper Bokspruit, or as high into the upper sections as would be reachable without four wheel drive. The river has a reputation for lots of fish but of rather meagre dimensions. It turned out very much to be the case and I think that I finished with something in the region of 150 trout for the day. Make no mistake there were a few respectable ones in amongst the hordes and even the babies were fat, these streams manage to maintain an obviously strong food chain. It was a good way to get into the groove after not a lot of fishing recently although I am not sure it did much to improve my rusty technique, it was really just too easy. Even an unexpected dip early in the day didn’t dampen my enthusiasm however and I had a great day. The scenery was spectacular and the poplars along the river were turning with the change of season. Bright yellow Roman Candles reaching for the clear blue skies.

Day three dawned a good deal crisper with a hint of frost in the air and we headed a short way up the Bell to Malpas, by now the water was crystal but anglers on the beat the day before had fared poorly with only three fish each. Concerns were that perhaps the place had been overfished. It turned out to be far from the case and we caught dozens of fish on dries and small nymphs. The brassie and the Para-RAB featuring highly in the fly department. There were still babies but some very good fish as well and Sharland landed a couple of beauties, drinks at Walkerbout’s later in the evening had a definitively celebratory bent.

Day four and we were hoping for the best as we had booked to fish high up on Boarman’s Chase, a section of water renowned for large and tricky fish, strong winds, freezing temperatures, crystal waters and the complete absence of trees due to the altitude. The wind was gale force moving to hurricane force later in the day and we struggled gamely, we fell into holes in the grass and were blown off our feet on more than one occasion. We caught some great fish but presentation was a problem and we were limited to smacking down hopper patterns in the hope of luring monsters out from the undercut banks and curtains of bankside grass. It wasn’t the best day but the potential was obvious, in calmer conditions one would have been able to sight fish for some very good trout. Still we both managed more than respectable fish, despite the gales and returned home wind beaten and content.

Day five and I was on my own again, this time on Dunley, yet another Bell River section a short way out of town. The skies were leaden and threatening and there was frost on the ground and the windscreen. The fishing turned out to be pretty good though, despite deteriorating conditions and I gave up early afternoon once I started getting pelted with frozen rain, but I earmarked the place for a return visit should the weather improve. I was also a little out of sorts having discovered that I had lost a fly box filled with Rhodes specific dry flies somewhere in the hurricane the day before.

Town wasn’t filled with anglers though and I took the risk of booking the same beat for the following morning in the hope that I might make the most of the obvious potential on this stunning piece of water.

Day six dawned cloudy and cold, frost on the grass and the car but the skies seemed to be clearing and I decided, particularly after the chill of the previous day, to wait of the sun to warm things up.

A return to Dunley provided one of the best days of river fishing I have ever experienced anywhere in the world.  The lower section of the beat was reminiscent of the grass banks of Boarman’s Chase. The first fish was in great condition, perhaps 18″ in length and fat as a brewer’s apron. Several more fish followed of similar size and each one putting up a spirited fight.

During the day several interesting encounters provided highlights to what was already tremendous fishing. One very good fish was netted and the hook removed only to find excess nylon wrapped around the net. Careful following the line backwards I found the fish still had a large bead head hare’s ear nymph in its throat. The hook was safely removed with the use of forceps and the fish released. There is a fellow angler out there somewhere ruing the windknots in his leader that’s for sure.

The offending fly and yards of nylon removed from a fish that had just happily swallowed my dry fly.

Then later in the day as the angle of the sun permitted I was able to sight fish for a good sized fish in the tail of a long pool. The first few presentations resulted in no response but the fish didn’t appear spooked. A change of flies resulted in no more interest and then I hooked a smaller fish to the right of the prize. Pulling the fish out of the pool as hard as possible I persevered, still my target fish seemed to be feeding sub-surface and I added a nymph to the dry on the line. Another smaller fish was hooked and again whisked out of the “zone” in the hope of avoiding upsetting the larger trout. Changes of flies still did little to improve fortunes and I stopped for a smoke, the fish was still there and apparently uninhibited. Then on the umpteenth cast I saw the trout tense and then charge the nymph. Coming so aggressively that I didn’t strike but simply held the line tight. I couldn’t understand the change of demeanour of the fish until it was netted after a spirited fight. Turns out that he was blind in his right eye and I had, as normal practise would dictate, been casting on my side of the fish, his right-hand side. It would seem that all those carefully measured casts were unseen and that in fact the “winning” presentation had been just a little too far to the left affording the fish the chance of seeing the fly and the resulting overly aggressive response. An interesting if time-consuming interlude.

Turns out the trout was blind in its right eye and unable to see most of my carefully measured presentations.

I was buoyed with enthusiasm as I entered the pub that evening, stories to tell and a wonderful day’s fishing but nobody to tell but disinterested old ladies on a flower tour, it was the only disappointment of the entire week.

Day seven I had limited time to fish, so elected to ignore booking and fish the public waters. Sometimes such waters are thought to be overfished and therefore actually neglected. I caught a lot of fish, mostly but not entirely, small ones and enjoyed a morning playing with various methods. Upstream dry flies produced, so did dry and dropper rigs with light but fast sinking brassie nymphs and finally on my way back to the car swinging wet flies down and across in the most ancient of trouting techniques. It was a fitting end to a wonderful trip, totally relaxed and simply playing with the options.

Rhodes may be troublesome to reach and require some good fortune to hit on the right day, but it offers an amazing variety of fishing, both waters and techniques as well as spectacular scenery and wonderful hospitality that would be hard to match anywhere in the world.

The journey home was perhaps a little tedious but I said a little prayer of thanks for every bump on the dirt road and every stop and go on the way back. Because it is the very remoteness of the place that makes the residents so hospitable, the town so unspoiled and the fishing so good.

Thank you to all my new found friends in Rhodes, we are bonded by a passion, a passion for peace and quiet, great fishing, glorious scenery and wonderful hospitality. I think that I might have had more fun on occasion, but never for ten days and never vertical.

Note:

This is the eightieth post on “The Fishing Gene Bog” , I think that it is fitting that the milestone was represented by some of the best fishing I have had in years, by a time with some special friends in a new place and some new friends in a special place. Perhaps you will forgive the longevity of this piece, but the place, the people, the new friends, the scenery and the hospitality couldn’t be adequately represented with less words. Thank you for reading. Tim

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Guide Flies

December 7, 2011

Things have been busy of late and that means that other than a lot of additional shopping, sandwich making, car servicing and such there is the perennial issue of having the right flies. If you are a social angler not being able to match the hatch or fool the fish is simply a matter of annoyance but if you are a guide it represents a most serious professional faux pas. I have to admit that I did once forget to take the rods with us in the car but I pride myself on finding a solution to finicky fish even if I have to chop up a pattern on the river to make it work.

Flies of course wear out, they get lost, hooked in bank-side herbage, caught in client’s socks and clothing and even simply fall out of one’s hat or fly box. In short they have a limited lifespan. With windy conditions, a bushy stream and an impatient and unskilled client their longevity is only marginally better than that of an unstable sub-atomic particle. More than a few give up their brief lives without ever having been presented near to a fish. I figure that if flies had feelings they would undoubtedly feel disappointed, perhaps even insulted by the way they are discarded with gay abandon. Trouble is, as one of my favoured writers, John Geirach, points out, to be of any use at all flies must be “thoughtlessly expendible” and that is pretty much it.

With all of the above then – there is the necessity to match the hatch, carry plenty of patterns, replace those lost and worn out and still have flies that are sufficiently efficacious to satisfy both discerning trout and fussy clients. One then has one’s work cut out work that frequently requires long hours at a hot vice in the wee hours of the morning.

Guides want their clients to catch fish and we want them to catch fish on the flies that we supply and recommend, but we don’t want to be spending an hour constructing a pattern that as likely as not will end up in a bridge support before it gets wet.

Guide flies are therefore a little different to standard shop bought patterns. Firstly I would venture that they are generally “more” and at least “as” effective. Secondly they are carefully geared to the likely requirements on specific waters with which the guide is intimately attuned. As far as possible they are equally durable, inexpensive and quick to manufacture and most of the time it is a huge advantage if they are also highly visible. People with sufficient time and financial resources to utilize guides are rarely blessed with 20:20 vision any longer, mind you neither are most of us aged, bent and arthritic guides either. For the client to miss a take is forgivable, the same doesn’t apply to the guide, so visible flies are a professional necessity.

So it comes to pass that I have been in need of churning out more than a few patterns of late and I thought that I might share a couple with you. You don’t need to be a guide to benefit from them and indeed anyone can make use of these invaluable patterns and adapt them to their own requirements.

The Key Patterns I like to carry are:

Elk Hair Caddis 

Once you get the hang of them Elk Hairs are pretty simple to tie, bleached or light hair makes them pretty visible and they not only make for great caddis flies but are respectable “bugs” covering any number of terrestrials, they will even fool more than a few Mayfly feeders much of the time. They have the added advantage of being one of the few patterns that are sufficiently aerodynamic to be easily forced into a stiff breeze when the need arises and equally act well as high floating indicator patterns when nymphing with a two fly rig. If there is a disadvantage it is that they are not that durable and require a palmered body hackle which if you are using genetics can be wasteful. On the smaller sizes you don’t really need body hackle at all and brushed out dubbing bodies will suffice. On the larger ones one can frequently use oversized hackle and trim them without ill effect. Either way they are patterns that you can’t really go without. Details of how to tie Elk Hair Caddis Flies can be found in my eBook “Essential Fly Tying Techniques

Parachute Mayflies:

I carry virtually no “standard” or “Catskill” ties at all in my boxes, the parachutes have major advantages in terms of presentation, they always land the right way up, are easily spotted on the water even in small sizes and require less hackle to make them float. They can therefore be tied more sparsely than Catskill ties which provides in my opinion better imitation and improved economics. My standard parachute pattern is the BSP “Bog Standard Parachute”. The flies vary in only size and colour, but their manufacture is identical. Again this is a major advantage in production tying, once you get in the groove you can churn out effective patterns at a rate of a dozen an hour or more. The key issues for me are that the BSP’s don’t use any dubbing, they sport bodies of thread only. Thread colours are easily and cheaply obtainable in such variety that you can match near anything that you may encounter and for our streams the slim bodies better match the anorexic forms of most of our naturals. We don’t have fat mayflies for much of the time, simple as that. There is a post on this blog “Bog Standard Parachutes” which gives step by step instructions. Also there are two parachute patterns detailed in my “Essential Fly Tying Techniques” eBook demonstrating the various techniques of tying in the post and performing a “super glue whip finish”. (the SGWF is a boon to guide flies, it does an amazing job of increasing durability and speed of tying, most flies get lost before they get broken)

Parachute Caddis Patterns:

It is odd really that the Elk Hair Caddis is such an effective pattern, on our waters we don’t have a single natural caddis fly that would grow larger than a size 18 and most are considerably smaller. Small and micro flies require trimming down compared to their more robust brethren and the goose biot micro caddis is the perfect example. It is tied with exactly the same technique, thread body, post and hackle as the small BSP’s just that it sports neat little biot wings. As a guide fly it is superb because you can always pull the wings off and have a reasonable midge or mayfly pattern. It lacks tails of course but sometimes it will work if you are stuck.

Spun Duns:

I have written about variations of spun duns on this blog previously, in fact in the article “No Hackles” you can find a link to tying a pretty complicated goose biot spun dun. Most of mine are however once more simple in the extreme. Split tails (a twist of complexity to be sure but even guides have been known to give in to vanity and they just look nice). Thread bodies (again that ease of matching various colour variations) and a collar of semi-spun deer hair. These are superb mayfly patterns and have the major guiding advantages of being quick to tie, easy to see, floatability and near ludicrously economic. They can further be trimmed on stream to produce spinner patterns, floating nymphs, cripples and emergers if the need arises.

Drowned Midges:

These patterns are actually drowned anything, although originally designed to copy net winged midges they do a great job of covering cripples, stillborns, drowned duns, midges and even spinners and are so simple to manufacture that there is no excuse not to have dozens of them. Simple brushed dubbed thorax to imitate legs and movement and hackle point wings, added more from vanity than necessity. They aren’t visible patterns and generally get fished in tandem in much the same way one would a nymph, but they are effective. Detailed instructions in graphic and video format for this pattern are part of my eBook “Essential Fly Tying Techniques”

The Brassie:

If there ever was a quintessential “Guide Fly” then the brassie has to be it, simple, quick and inexpensive to tie, durable and deadly. It is my “go to nymph” when the fish are being difficult. We don’t have a lot of serious hatches and the fish rarely get the luxury of honing in on specific sub-aquatic forms. The brassie does a great job of covering tiny caddis larvae, baetis mayfly nymphs, black fly larva and more, plus it has that “certain Je ne sais quoi” that lures fish the world over. Tying the brassie is covered in “Essential Fly Tying Techniques” eBook, available from http://www.inkwaziflyfishing.co.za

Pheasant Tail Nymph:

In case I feel the need for something a tad more complicated the Pheasant Tail nymph covers more sub aquatic life, a universal pattern effective everywhere. Sporting on occasion a tungsten bead and always with my favoured peacock herl thorax for that added touch of sparkle. Another killer pattern in various guises. The PTN breaks one of the guide fly rules, it does lack slightly on the durability front, but wrapping the pheasant tail over a bed of thread moistened with head cement will provide additional longevity. The PTN is also covered in detail in “Essential Fly Tying Techniques” eBook.

The Compar-ant:

This has to be one of the simplest patterns of all, I don’t use it frequently but when you need an ant then you need one badly. Flying ants have the ability to hook fish into selective feeding more than any other natural on our streams. The fish simply love them and you can sometimes break a hatch with an ant if you can’t copy the actual hatching fly. Trout will deviate from established feeding patterns to take ants and they represent a great trick to have up one’s sleeve. The Compar-ant is made entirely of synthetic materials, a poly-yarn wing and superfine dubbing body, has a superb and uncomplicated profile which I think better imitates the key segmentation of the real insect. It is well established that the thin waste and distinct thorax and gaster of the ant act as a trigger to the fish, one doesn’t want to mask it.

All the above flies can be varied in terms of size and colour to suit, with a few colour and size variations in each of the above you will still be carrying hundreds of flies, but they won’t take long to manufacture or replace, they will catch you fish almost anywhere that you go and you won’t break into a cold sweat of panic if you lose one in a tree.

Guide Flies are essentially simple and quick to tie, inexpensive, durable and effective. You need to be able to whip them out by the dozen but still fish them with confidence.

This post brought to you by the publisher of the world's most innovative fly tying book. Essential Fly Tying Techniques

Going Micro

December 1, 2010

Things are still getting going with the season on the streams and there has been that (possibly) fortuitous influx of brownies, which are keeping many of our hopes alive because without the life long education that the stream born rainbows have received to be honest the brownies are still a little naïve.

So right now larger flies still work pretty much Ok and although you are likely to be getting refusals from some of the “bows” the brownies will frequently make an error of judgment. But summer is coming the late rains have added a flush to the system but pretty soon you are going to be reaching for that 7 or 8X tippet and the micro patterns.

Whilst it has taken a few years for their general acceptance it isn’t uncommon for one to find even neophyte anglers on the streams with tiny patterns and fine tippets, it has become accepted pretty much that small is often better when the going gets tough. Of course a quick glimpse at the size of the actual bugs on the river will confirm that much of what the trout eat is pretty tiny and it makes sense to copy that, at least the size if not the pattern. The fish have wised up to the idea that if something appears to be too good to be true then it probably is and I would have to say that most of the better fish that I have caught come on tiny dries or nymphs, particularly in lower water conditions.

So what patterns are likely to be effective and how can you best fish them?

My top producing micro patterns include:


The parachute micro caddis, these flies arrive in great numbers, last a long time on the water and definitely fall into the drink on a regular basis. In fact I am not sure that the hatch is that important, it is the residual caddis flies wandering about the rocks which provide a regular food source. They come in two primary colours, tan and black and you should carry patterns of both although the black one is a favourite.

Micro Spun Dun.


Spun duns manufactured out of deer hair can only be tied so small , after that they become problematic but a switch to using CDC or poly yarn as a wing will allow you to tied these flies down to minute sizes without much trouble or indeed expense. A favourite being the blue winged olives which can be readily manufactured with dun or gray poly yarn and olive thread bodies.

The Compar-ant.


Using similar methods to the spun dun techniques, this is a remarkably visible fly for a micro pattern and fish just love ants. Whilst falls of flying ants aren’t common they do produce superb fishing with almost every trout in the river “on the top”. Even when they are not about in numbers the fish will target them and you can frequently break the spell of a tricky fish by using an ant.

Sunk Patterns:

Fishing micro patterns sub surface is probably even more effective, if only because when reduced to micro tactics it is generally a result of  the water being low and clear and the fish  being particularly troublesome to tempt. The fishing of patterns sub surface not only sinks the leader or tippet but also often seems to tempt the trout more easily, they just seem more accepting of subsurface flies some how.

The brassie:


This is a giant amongst the micro flies and serves as my number one micro nymph pattern when the going is tough. I have switched to this fly after a refusal to a dry and ended up tempting the fish more times than I care to remember. It is simple to tie, sinks like a brick on fine tippet and is one of the few fast sinking nymphs that can be easily cast on the ultra-light tackle that we tend to use on the streams. I carry them in both tailed “mayfly nymph” versions and tailless “Midge” versions.

The drowned midge:


Another tiny pattern which could in fact represent any number of drowned bugs or emergers or stillborn flies. Tied with either a thread or wire body this pattern offers a bit more movement than the brassie and will frequently illicit a response when other flies fail.

Fishing micro flies:

For the dries I generally fish them alone on a fine 7  or 8X tippet, but if you are battling to see them then you can fish them in tandem behind another pattern that is a bit more visible. You will find that it is more difficult to get drag free drifts with two flies but it is better  than missing the take entirely and takes to microscopic dries are frequently pretty subtle so knowing exactly where the fly is can be a huge boon.

For the sunken patterns again I usually fish them with a dry fly indicator, a size 18 parachute will easily support these tiny subsurface flies, there is no need for a giant indicator pattern.

When targeting a visible fish one can forego the indicator dry but the trick then is to watch the fish and not the fly. If the fish makes a sudden turn to eat subsurface a strike will usually find your pattern firmly stuck in the scissors of the trout. No matter that you thought that the nymph was some way off, it is tricky if not impossible to actually guess exactly where the fly is under water and better to tighten on any distinct feeding movement of the fish.

Fishing Micro Patterns with a sighter dry fly.

You can click on the above diagram to see an enlarged version.

So as the water levels drop you will be faced with more sight fishing opportunities and at the same time probably more trouble getting the fish to eat bigger flies. Moving to the micro patterns is of course only one of a variety of options but it is definintely one that should be part of your armoury.

When the going gets tough, the tough go micro, at least some of the time.

Have fun out there.

This post was brought to you by:

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There is is, a quick low down on fishing tiny flies, it takes some getting used to, faith has a lot to do with it but time has taught me that the trouble it takes to get used to fishing small can pay handsome dividends come the low waters of summer.

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World Class

October 27, 2009
Bell's Festival

The Bell's Festival in Cape Town provides tuition for neophyte anglers.

I have been out participating as a guide at the Bell’s Fly Fishing Festival, sponsored by that iconic brand “Bell’s Extra Special Scotch” and held on the gorgeous streams of the Limietberg Reserve .

The Cape version of this festival, one of many Bell’s Festivals throughout the country, is just a tad different. Us Capetonians rather like things to be a little different and here instead of competitive fishing the focus is on assisting neophyte anglers to overcome and master the technicalities of fishing catch and release waters full of some pretty well educated trout. Guides and experienced anglers give up their time and freely pass on their expertise to the newcomers with on-stream guiding and tuition and it is always a wonderful event.

I doubt that any fly angler, no matter how skilled or egotistical could honestly vouch that they have never benefited from the guidance of another, and the Bell’s festival provides orchestrated means to give something back.

We had some glorious fishing, the waters had dropped and were at near perfect levels, slighting stained by natural tannins leached from the surrounding soils to the colour of well watered whisky, appropriate perhaps given the business of our main sponsors.

It was good but not overly easy, a great combination when you are teaching, you don’t wish to give the impression that things are too simple, and yet you do hope that your “cients” will at least enjoy a modicum of success. We found trout rising freely in the morning, things quietened down a few times during the day but all in all it was a great outing, my “clients” I think appreciated the assistance, benefitted from the experience and we all enjoyed a glorious day out in the most splendid of locations. Ericas and pelargoniums provided colourful counterpoint to the rather drap fynbos, and troupes of baboons wandered near the road as we walked in.

It was a superb summer’s day in Southern Africa and all was good. The Sunday saw everyone leave for home quite early, to the point that only myself and Stephen Dugmore were left at the hotel, drinking coffee and discussing fishing, until we both thought that perhaps it would be a good idea to drop into one of the beats for a quick cast or two on the way home.

We decided to just check things out as we drove past, make sure that the wind wasn’t howling and then make a decision. Of course once standing looking at a crystal clear trout stream the decision is already made, even if you try to pretend it isn’t and we decided to give it “an hour or two”.

Those few hours provided some of the best angling I have enjoyed in ages, although there weren’t fish moving much we both took fish in the first run. Really good fish, in the region of sixteen inches or so, which ran line off the reel and made us both work really hard to get them in the net. In fact we netted each other’s fish so as to get them in a little quicker, really cracking fish in perfect condition. Fish that had they come from a dam wouldn’t have looked out of place.

Release

The fish taken were larger than this one, but all safely released to provide sport another day.

On releasing them their camouflage in the golden coloured stream was so good that they virtually disappeared in front of our eyes, often only their shadows on the rock bottom revealing their presence. World class stuff. Then we came to “the fish of the day”, an equally good fish, in the tail out of a large pool. She was holding high in the water, although still tricky to see, even in the flat water.

Moving this way and that taking mostly subsurface food and occasionally nebbing to pick a drowned morsel from the surface. The first cast saw her swing downstream following the fly but I don’t think that she actually took it, or I missed. The tiny elk hair caddis was removed and replaced with a minute biot micro caddis, (there were a lot of them on the rocks and I thought that a good choice). She never even looked at that, so I lengthened the leader and put a size 18 brassie nymph over her, feeling that would do the trick. But again not a twitch from the fish although she kept feeding. Finally I tried a #20 comparant pattern, the fly landed just off to the fish’s left, she swung in the current and with an almost imperceptible nudge of the surface film inhaled the fly and was on.

Flysequence

It took all these flies to finally deceive the fish, all great "go to patterns', but in the end it was the ant that proved her downfall.

She ran some  20 metres up the run attempting to break the tippet in the overhanging trees, then down past us, all the time straining the 7X tippet. Eventually after something of a battle she was netted, the minute pattern stuck in the scissors of her mouth. We revived her and let her go. This is what makes fishing for me, the challenge and the ultimate deception and we both agreed that really, this was world class stuff. The fishing that you see in your dreams, clear waters, nebbing fish, microscopic dry flies and battles of wits around the boulders. We fished on a bit and Stephen lost a good fish later in the morning but by then I think we had had enough. Not a lot of fish but good ones and well caught. What more can you ask for?