Photograph by Steve Barnett

Friday, 20 August 2010

"Dry" Fly?

A wet evening last night made for a few difficulties...

The spinner returns have been consistent and predictable in this catchment. The thought of a few hours in the gloaming amongst the flies and the fish makes life at work bearable in the few moments of day dreaming that naturally creep into a day nailed to the desk. Coming out in the rain last night it was not obvious whether there would be any fly activity at all.

There were singleton sedge flies about, mainly under overhanging vegetation, but the scarce rises (when they were visible) were almost certainly not to sedge flies. There were so few rises it was pot luck to have the eye on the right bit of water at the right moment to make any judgement as to the type of fly being eaten. The constant rain pattering away at the surface made it impossible to see the flies on the water. BUT...

Some fish were rising. There had to be a chance of a little Sport before bedtime.
It was time to cash in a little local knowledge - gained, of course from RECONNAISSANCE on previous occasions spent wandering and sitting by the water – the decision was taken to head for a spot where the fish “usually” rise whenever there are flies to be eaten.

At last a fish was found that was rising frequently enough to come to a conclusion about the chosen menu. It was spinner. Okay, so there were no spinners dancing over the water, or if there were, the rain was hiding them from view, but this fish was making the elongated rise form caused by its close-to-the-surface position and its tilting up an inch or so to break the surface, first with the top of the head as it sucked in the fly, then the dorsal fin and finally the top of the tail as it levelled off in the water again, on station, ready for the next spinner to drift over its head.

The first cast fell short and lo and behold my fly sank! It was waterlogged! Out with it and sure enough it was wet through. A minute or so of attention and powdering had it dry and the cast landed right and the fish took it. A nice male brown trout of a pound or so that swam away well, after being less than 5 seconds out of the water thanks to the hook falling out as the net lifted him and the tension on the line was released. That was the encouragement needed to persevere against the Derbyshire Drizzle, famous for soaking you through without you noticing it happening!

Creeping up to another likely spot, the first cast here resulted in the fly sinking again, immediately! What was going on? I’d meticulously dried it after that first fish. Nevertheless, it was soaking wet and sank on this first cast. The fish had stopped rising. Daylight was fast disappearing. It was a good idea to move upstream to another spot. So I hooked the fly into one of the guides, tightened up and moved on. Having found another rising fish I sat down cross-legged on the bank and unshipped the fly from the guide. This time I looked at my fly a little more closely...

Well bless my soul! The fly, that a moment or so earlier had been perfectly dried and fluffed up ready to use, was now a wet and sorry looking thing. The guides were conducting water off the rod into big drips and my fly sitting in the middle of these drips was getting soaked through every time I moved on. There was the answer. Dry and treat the fly before the first cast, not simply before moving on.

In dry weather amadou makes a good medium for drying flies but in wet weather, wet hands will render the amadou useless in a matter of minutes. Dessicant powders are a better bet. I use Top Ride to shake the fly in and, this year, I’ve also been using Frog’s Fanny that is applied with a brush. I found they both worked equally well in the wet last night.

The conditions, the fish and the flies reinforced the lessons inculcated before that to have some success in our Sport it is first necessary to be there, in despite of the uncomfortable conditions; to find rising fish and if you cannot see the flies being taken, work out what is the likeliest bet by watching the rise forms; and that the first cast has the best chance if the fly is presented properly.

The new lesson last night was to check the fly closely and make sure it was going to float before making that first cast...

Regular Rod

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