Photograph by Steve Barnett

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Landing Net

If you are making the move from stillwaters, what landing net did you use?  Did it have a long handle?  Did it have a good sized head so you could easily fit big fish in it?  If you answered yes to both these questions you need not be out buying a new net for your move to dry fly fishing.

There is a view in some quarters that a net is not needed.  It's a macho thing and unfortunately such an attitude is bad for the fish, especially if the fish are to be returned. 

Why use a net?  Nearly the right question...

Why use a long handled net of good sized capacity?  Now that is the right question!

If your net has a long handle you can bring your fish over and into it much more quickly than without.  This means your fish is not exhausted, will recover more quickly and have a better chance of surviving.  In a fishery where wild fish are the quarry this is vital for the future.  You can look on Warren's blog at some video of how this works in practice.  From 04:09 to 05:04, less than a minute, from being hooked to being landed.  This fish is far from exhausted and is beaten by the simple fact that the net is out there ready for it and eventually it is steered over and into it, despite its best efforts to be elsewhere.

Don't be embarrassed if you are carrying a net around that others deem is too large.  That larger capacity will also come in mighty handy one day.  Imagine being without it when you needed it!  For years I only had one net.  A large Efgeeco that served me for carp, chub, pike, seatrout, roach and oh yes, trout!  There are better, pan style, knitted nets nowadays that give the fish a much better time of it.  Take your inspiration from the modern coarse match anglers rather than the Victorian dry fly anglers when deciding on your net design.

What about afterwards?  You've landed your fish and it is time to get the hook out.  With the fish laying in the folds of the net on soft ground, if the hook is not accessible to your fingers you will need your forceps.  The same ones you used for your other fishing will be fine, so that is something else you can save money on without sacrificing efficiency.

There is another item that you might consider using if you are practicing Catch and Release and if the location you are fishing has no soft vegetation to lay your net on during the unhooking.  If you have done a bit of specimen hunting amongst the so called coarse fishes you will no doubt already have an unhooking mat.  They are a bit awkward to carry about being bulky, but if all you have is stony ground to lay your fish on then why not give one a try?

Regular Rod

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

What have you already got?

If you are making the move from lakes and reservoirs to rivers and streams it can be more to your advantage to spend your money on your fishing ticket(s) than on tackle.  You already have some tackle so let's take a look at it and see what can be put to use without having to buy new.  Of course eventually, if you fall in love with the Sport, then you will indeed be investing in some new items specifically for your dry fly fishing.

What will you need?  Let's be conventional for now and agree to leave Macedonian, Medieval, Tenkara and other fixed line arrangements to one side.  So, among your stillwater rods, do you have one that is between eight and nine feet long and that uses a line no heavier than a six weight and no lighter than a four weight?  If you have then that solves your rod requirements.  The only cost may be to buy a spray can of matte black paint, to paint the rod and rings so you get rid of any shiny surfaces before they scare all your fish away.  Simply assemble the rod.  Mask off the corks and maybe the writing on the butt then waft two or three thin coats over the whole rod making sure the guides (if not already black) end up matte black too.

If you are going to be spending money on a new rod for dry fly fishing, choose a rod of eight and half feet to nine feet long that uses a number five weight line and has a middle to tip action.  Most importantly your rod needs to be matte with no shiny whippings or fittings.  Yes there will be those who suggest other rod lengths and other weights of line and other actions but if you start with a rod as suggested here, it will serve you very well on most rivers and streams in all wind and weather conditions and let you build on your own experiences.  If you are anything like most dry fly fanatics you will end up with a cupboard full of rods representing a great variety of line weights, rod lengths and rod actions but you will come back to this starting point rod again and again. 

So, this rod from your stillwater armoury, have you got a reel with a floating line (any floating line) on it to suit the rod?  Yes?  Well, for now, that has saved you some more money but...  You will need to change the colour of the line.  To do this you need a Pantone or similar broad tipped permanent marker pen in dark brown.  This next bit is messy so put on some rubber gloves before pulling off twenty yards of the line from the reel and then carefully rub the line with the marker, working your way forward until the front twenty yards of the line are now brown.  Okay this is not the perfect answer but it is a very important improvement to make before you begin dry fly fishing in earnest.

If you are going to buy yourself a new reel and a new line make sure the reel is NOT SHINY and try to get as small and as light a reel as you can.  We are looking for tools not jewels!  Your reel is not (well should not be) a piece of jewellery.  It is there to hold the line and not much else. 

Look at these two reels, I've had them for the same length of time.  One of them was a prize in a Wild Trout Trust competition, only one of them has made it to the riverside though (clue: it has a line loaded on it).  There is no place for shiny stuff when Dry Fly Fishing!

As for the line... 

Whether you decide to invest in one of the 'EXPERT' lines or choose something else is entirely up to you but please, for your own sake, do end up with a mucky brown line on your reel even if you have to colour it yourself.

Next time we will look at landing nets and some of the smaller but pretty well essential items for your dry fly fishing.

Regular Rod

Friday, 17 December 2010


So having considered our tops and our bottoms we can now consider our middles.

In mountain biking circles in the Peak District in Derbyshire there is a saying: "There is no such thing as 'bad' weather only incorrect clothing." 

You must clad yourself as you see fit for the weather on the day but whatever the weather do remember that basic principle...  Stealth is required at all times, so choose the colours accordingly. 
On a hot day it may be best to wear a shirt and carry your tackle in a little shoulder bag. 

On a temperate day you may be happier with the weight of your gear spread over your torso in the pockets of a 'weskit' (waistcoat that is) or a vest. Personally I don't like those high waisted vests that are intended for wading as they present all your fly boxes and stuff on the front of your breasts.  Crawling on your tummy to approach your fish becomes a nightmare when the bulky pockets get in your way and it is impossible to adjust them out of the way. 

When I wear a vest I like the long type like a travel vest. On days when it might rain then it is worth carrying a rain garment in with your tackle. 

This summer I treated myself to a Rohan Windshadow in Trail Green.  It folds away in its own inside pocket and it works very well indeed. 

On days when it is simply raining all day then you will need a suitably coloured coat.  I still use a Barbour because I get involved with thorns on some of the rivers I frequent but there are other excellent jackets of more modern materials.  Yet again the colour is paramount if you are to have any chance at keeping your presence unknown to the fish. 

On those hot days when you will be wearing a shirt, don't forget that your arms may be the wrong colour for hiding from the fish, so wear long sleeves and choose materials that will defend you from nettles and such...

Well that's the clothes dealt with, next time we can start getting controversial with some tackle talk.  A subject to almost guarantee disagreement when discussed between two or more keen anglers.  No don't worry.  If you have already been fly fishing in still waters you will be surprised how much of your gear is perfectly usable for dry fly fishing on the rivers and streams.

Regular Rod

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The Lines...

Click on the image to enlarge it and click again to get a closer look still
...are now available in WF3F, WF4F, WF5F, WF6F and WF7F.  They are the best quality possible today and are the only lines made specifically for the rigours of dry fly fishing, with no consideration towards other types of angling.  You can of course use them for other stuff, like wets and nymphs, but they are designed and built for dry fly fishing.

There has been no compromise made at all.  The best and latest core material was chosen, so memory won't spoil your first casts of the day.  The coating uses the finest glass balls, so the surface is as smooth as possible and yet the line floats really well.  The anti-friction content is a special material that doesn't cause a shine, so lets the lines be slick running through your rod's guides, yet still keep a dull finish to avoid flash, even in bright sunlight.  The brown colour is unique, being that of smooth, high organic content, MUD!  This has proven to be the best colour for avoiding the flicker and flash effect of pale coloured lines, as you make your false casts.  You will frighten fewer fish when casting this line.

The taper is especially designed to let you make accurate and delicate casts with only a very short amount of line through your tip ring.  In fact, during the trials, it proved easy to cast with just the weight of the line threaded up along the rod and no fly line actually outside the tip ring.  Then, when you need to make longer casts, the combination of the belly, the rear taper and the special anti-friction material in the coating lets you do this with ease and accuracy.  If you follow the advice about leaders, in the booklet, you will find even at long range your casts can turn over nicely and your presentations can still be delicate to help avoid scaring your fish.

The packaging is simple but attention to detail has been continued here as well.  The lines are bound with "pipe cleaners" rather than tapes.  The thought of a nearly fifty quid line being accidentally cut when snipping off tapes is too horrifying to bear.  Each line comes on a spool, so you do not risk kinking, knotting tangles when trying to get the line onto your reel.  It is a simple matter to push a pencil through the card insert in the spool and get someone to hold this "axle" whilst the spool turns as you load the line.  If you are doing this alone, simply make two small columns of books or magazines a couple of inches apart and trap each end of the pencil inside books opposite each other in the columns.  Then wind the line onto your reel whilst the spool turns between the two columns of books, or magazines. 

You will be pleased to note that each line has a label attached to the reel end of the line with the legend "ATTACH THIS END TO BACKING", which will save you from putting the line on the reel back to front.

How much?  £47 plus postage and packing.  These are lines that I vouch for personally and are guaranteed against any manufacturing defect.  If you would like one, drop me an email on telling me your requirements.

That's the end of the commercial break.  We'll finish off clothing in the next post and move onto... tackle.

Regular Rod

Monday, 6 December 2010

Getting down to the bottom of the subject

Where you, dear angler, are the "subject".

Last time we examined your head, so now we consider your other end.  What you wear on your lower reaches will depend on several considerations.  Will you be wading?  Will you be deeply wading?  (No not deeply wailing!  Save that for church.)  Or will you be fishing from the bank and only the bank.  In a dry summer it may be much more comfortable for the bank angler to leave the wellies behind and instead wear some outdoor boots.  I know some very successful dry fly anglers who wear chest high wading stockings in all conditions, even though they do not intend to wade.  They value the protection above the potential for cooking a little on warmer days.  These considerations are mainly down to where you will be fishing and your personal preferences, but...

Remember that your quarry must not be aware that you are there.  A low profile is most desirable.  To this end if you are not wading then the posture of your daily supplications can bring an answer to your prayers, but often, even better, being seated is the way to keep low yet still be able to cast and control your line reasonably well.  So on your knees, or on your backside, the matter of what you are wearing on your legs and lower loins becomes important.

If you have overtrousers that resist the onslaught of thorns, thistles, puddles and cow pats then your problems are solved more comfortably than with chest high wading stockings.  Mine are inexpensive, Goretex bib and brace style trousers with built in braces.  Ex-German or Dutch army, they cost about £30 and they are tough enough to last 5 seasons at least.  Whatever you do get, make sure you wear them even on hot days.  A pair of nice Rohan or Craghoppers outdoor trousers will be cool and comfortable until you start working your way through waist high nettles and thistles, then you will wish you had slipped the overtrousers over them before you decided to angle in places where the fish do not have a well worn path beaten to them.

This is mundane stuff but if you overlook these details it can spoil your chances and your comfort.  So please do take it seriously when you begin this toe-to-toe, creeping skulduggery we call dry fly fishing.

Regular Rod