Photograph by Steve Barnett

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Useful Hooks

Now you are quite likely to be tying flies in the long dark evenings, you might like to see a small selection of hooks that are fast becoming the most useful to your faithful blogger for the most frequently used dry flies...

None of them are sold as fly tying hooks.  In England we are blessed with a thriving community of so-called "coarse anglers".  In the UK "Coarse" is the name given to any fish without an adipose fin.  Serious coarse anglers are very demanding and would never tolerate hooks that were not efficient and strong. 

These hooks are both efficient, strong and yet fine enough in the wire to let dry flies dressed on them float well.  The straight eye is perfect for setting the hook efficiently to gain the best hold.  They are barbless, so fish can be released far more quickly and with less harm done than is possible with barbed hooks.  The first three hooks on the left are reversed and this too adds to their hooking powers.

Most importantly, they are all forged hooks with the wire at the bend slightly flattened, so they do not straighten out, even in the smallest sizes.

The Ashima hooks are imported into the UK by Profish and I suggest you contact the nice man at Profish to buy them in fly tying quantities.

Kamasan and Drennan hooks are both from the same company, Drennan.  You will find these in most coarse fishing tackle shops and on eBay.

The Preston hooks are also found in most good coarse fishing shops and on eBay.

Ashima are available in bulk as well as in tens.  The others come only in those infuriating little packets and do work out quite expensive when compared with hooks available in bulk, but they are so superior to most hooks sold for fly tying that the extra cost is worth it, especially if you fish where the quarry can sometimes be a bit bigger and stronger than usual...

The rule next to the hooks in the picture shows up what a wide variation there is in the manufacturers' interpretations of sizes.  The Ashima and Kamasan hooks in the picture are both described as "Size 16".  The Preston is said to be "Size 18".  This is why it is important to choose hooks by your own sight to match the size of the flies you hope to mimic when you dress your artificials.


Thursday, 22 November 2012

Ogden Island

Four years ago, Warren and Jan cleared the way to let anglers fish this island in the Derbyshire Wye by building a nice bridge out of a long piece of cord wood and doing heroic things with the tangle of fallen trees to let us get into positions to observe, cast and occasionally catch a fish or two.  There is a wonderful grayling run at the tail of the island and lots of hidy holes and runs upstream that abound in wild trout, both browns and rainbows.  There is room for one angler at a time (two if you are close friends) and the place to start is at the tail and spend a few hours quietly working your way up.  The casting gets progressively more demanding as you work upstream and that adds a little spice to the Sport.

 Here are Warren and Jan making the bridge.

Here's Warren catching the first fish from Ogden Island in 2008.

Henry likes the bridge, here he is waiting for me to cross over and join him

This is the lovely grayling run viewed from the "mainland" on the left bank of the Derbyshire Wye.

Here's the tail of Ogden Island.  The main channel of the river is on the right of the photograph.  The little side channel is on the left.

These monochromes of and around Ogden Island, were made with a toy camera that I've cobbled together with a nice lens to make a home-made, panoramic camera that can deliver quality photographs, the results of which, I hope, give something of a feeling of the place to the viewer, especially if you click on them to get a closer look. 

Are these successful? 

Only you can tell!

Regular Rod

Thursday, 15 November 2012


Here is a lovely place to drift a bushy fly down in the summer.  After you catch the resident whopper, under that tangle just below the cobble weir, simply wander up five yards, cross the bridge and you are on Ogden Island, a place of great beauty that brings joy to the beholder on every visit.  Henry loves it because here he often finds a pheasant or two to scare into the air.

Of course you'll catch nowt if you look at the place from this vantage point! 

Crawling into position downstream from here and keeping hidden is essential for any chance of success...

Regular Rod

Friday, 9 November 2012

A Gate to Heaven?

It really is a piece of Heaven through that gate.  One of the most lovely parts of my local river, packed with trout and grayling that thrive on the fly life, which thanks to the efforts of the river keepers, is so abundant hereabouts.

Now that our Environment Agency (EA) has once again neglected its duties to protect England and Wales from invasive species, it looks like the native species of creatures the trout rely on for food and we rely on for dry fly fishing in England and Wales are doomed to extinction.  I worry and wonder just how long that gate will remain a way through to Heavenly delights.  The killer shrimp is now being transported from water to water by boats, fish farmers and, yes, careless anglers too!  It seems to be only a matter of time before we lose all the larvae of the aquatic flies to this virulent predator.  This will affect others besides Dry Fly anglers.  There will be very few dippers, martins, swallows, swifts, flycatchers, wagtails....  There will be fewer bats.  Some, like the Daubenton's Bats, will actually disappear from the British Isles.  All of this is thanks to contaminated bilge being imported to our lakes, reservoirs, canals and rivers by the boating enthusiasts.  The real criminals in all this are the time servers in the EA who did nothing when it was first discovered at:

  • Grafham Water in Cambridgeshire
  • Cardiff Bay in South Wales
  • Eglwys Nunydd Reservoir in Port Talbot, South Wales
  • Barton Broad in the Norfolk Broads

  • What should the EA have done?  They should have closed these waters off the instant Killer Shrimp was discovered in them.  The reservoirs should have been drained down and the beds limed and dried off.  Cardiff Bay should have been quarantined so that bilges were decontaminated before craft were allowed to pass on anywhere else.  Instead there were no restrictions placed on access for boats at any of these locations and now - anywhere where boats go and fish farmers truck in their products - we can expect this invader to arrive and start eating our native species into extinction.

    Please do what you, personally, can do to slow the spread of the killer shrimps.  After fishing, wash your wellies, overtrousers, waders and nets in hot water and dry them out before you visit another water. You might not be able to stop fish farmers and boaters spreading this nightmare but you can ensure you never do.

    Thank you.

    Regular Rod