Photograph by Steve Barnett

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Duke of Wellington, again...

Yes reconnaissance is the main objective for the dry fly angler, at this time of the year, when by the water.  Fishing with wet flies for grayling is pleasant enough but, as far as our dry fly fishing is concerned, close scrutiny of mundane things can be informative.  These little observations can be stored away in the memory and cashed in when the season starts again.

Here are some pictures of a place that many of the Derbyshire anglers will recognise immediately...

We have had some high and brown water over the last two days but now the river is clearing yet staying restored to a better level than we have had in this year of drought.  This crease always generates an elongated eddy when the water is up like this.  Facing down river and casting up current near the edge is a good ploy when after fish sheltering from the main current's push.  This shot is taken from down river and if you look at the debris in the bottom left you can see the current in the edge is going upriver.  Hence the advice to fish from the upriver position if casting a dry fly.

This shot is taken from roughly where the angler might kneel to cast as just described.  But look what is happening in the crease itself...

There is a fine grayling working its way upriver right next to where the angler would be. 

What a useful thing to remember if we have high water next season!  Yes the eddy fish will be there, but I must not neglect the opportunity right next to me.

Regular Rod

Tuesday 29 November 2011


By any clean river or silvery stream
The Dipper bird is often seen.
He bobs and dips and dances jigs
On bankside stones and bankside twigs.
He can dance!
He can fly!
He can even swim!
And when he feels hungry, he just jumps in
To swim underwater among the reeds
And catch the small creatures on which he feeds.

Regular Rod

Thursday 17 November 2011

Where the fish are again...

The bonny BBC put out a very misleading report recently about how wonderful hydropower is on the Derbyshire Wye and with a big fat slot dedicated to encouraging anyone to set up hydropower schemes of their own.  The spot made no real reference to the constant and enormous impact that turbines have on fish populations.  The debate is being weighted in the media for the schemes and how much money they can get for their owners with almost no account being made of the needs of the rivers and their inhabitants.  The attitude from the hydropower lobby is universally that the turbines have precedence and the rivers can have what little is left.

There is a voice crying in the wilderness that is trying to get some respite for the rivers and the creatures that depend on them.  It is the Angling Trust.  BUT the problems are enormous and the underfunded Angling Trust and its legal arm Fish Legal are engulfed in cases from all over the country.  The problem is widespread but anglers' support to the Angling Trust, for all sorts of reasons, is somewhat sparse.  There are reckoned to be around 4 million of us but even if that is a miscalculation there are certainly 2 million of us.  Imagine what could be done if 2 million anglers became individual members (not club members that's a cop out) and the Trust and Fish Legal were funded accordingly.  The team would have the resources to tackle this, the biggest threat to fisheries in the UK, and maybe we could get our governement to listen and realise that funding the grant rush for hydropower is a big, big mistake.

Hydro Power Perch Picture Courtesy of The Angling Trust

If you know of a hydropower scheme near you just count to ten - one, two , three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and TEN.  There you are!  A fish has just been killed in it...  Now count to ten again!  There you are another fish is dead...  Now consider this - that is going on all day and night! 

Fish move upstream to breed but they cannot if they follow their instincts and swim up the strongest flow because that instinct leads them to the turbine and not the spawning grounds upriver.  Combine this with the deaths of fish taking the easiest route down river from where they were born upriver and it is not hard to see how the dippers, dabchicks, herons, ospreys, otters and yes, we anglers too, are going to have a harder time of it thanks to the lunacy of the tax funded vandalism called hydropower.

If you want to do something about this, the first step is to write to your MP expressing your concerns.  The next is to join the Angling Trust and support Fish Legal so that a co-ordinated approach can be made to the government.  Whatever, please do something, anything, if you think it might help.

Regular Rod

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Money, money, money...

A very important aspect of our glorious Sport is what the old Victorian anglers used to call "Gaining leave to fish" they meant getting your fishing permissions organised for the future season(s).  It can be expensive but it all depends on what your priorities are just how much you are prepared to set aside for your dry fly fishing.

"That Excellent Inn the Peacock, Rowsley Bridge" circa 1879

My first outlay, for membership of the Peacock Fly Fishing Club, in readiness for next season has just been dealt with and, frankly, although it has gone up 5% compared with this last season, I believe it will be worth it.  The water is superb and the river keepers are second to none in the country.  The "wild fish only" policy is a massive success with more fish in the river than ever before (at least since I started fishing there in 1969) and they are in a greater variety of sizes from little to enormous and everything in between.  The water is beautifully kept without turning the place into a theme park or worse still a "garden" and the wildlife abounds, thanks to the diversity of habitats created by the keepers.

There will be other, greater outlays to come but that will be in Q1 next year!

You may have similar outlays to make, so a good mission during this close season is to make sure to set aside enough money, money money...

Regular Rod

Friday 28 October 2011


Leakage into old mine workings

Unfettered abstraction

A depleted reach

A very severe drought

The river Lathkill, mentioned by Charles Cotton in the Fifth Edition of Izaak Walton's The Complete Angler, is a river in chronic trouble in its higher reaches.  One day the drainage soughs under the old mines might be closed up again.  The law might change and the abstractions curtailed.  The Hydro scheme down river might be abandoned and the water returned to the river.  If that happens then droughts shall cease to be a problem and this little bridge might have water running under it again and fish holding station in front of the supports.

Queen Victoria used to fish here...  It was a fabulous river.  Some parts of it still are.  If we could get the water back into the river and not stolen away before it can do its work, it would be as Charles Cotton knew it in 1676: "by many degrees, the purest and most transparent stream that I ever saw, either at home or abroad; and breeds, 'tis said, the reddest and the best trouts in England"

Ah, happy days...

Regular Rod

PS here's the picture that Anonymous sent in with a comment.  It's looking from downriver.  The two figures are standing on that self same bridge!

Thursday 20 October 2011

Where the fish are...

An awful prospect has reared its ugly head over the last few weeks.  A company ironically calling itself "Sustainable Bakewell", relying on taxpayers' money for its very existence has a CEO who wants to dredge an ancient millrace that hasn't worked for over 60 years. 

One of the Perfect Pool and Riffle Sequences at Risk of being Dredged Out
This millrace is a fantastic river in miniature, with pool and riffle sequences and meanders making it the ideal habitat for all the species we hold dear: Ranunculus fluitans, Starwort, Flag Iris, Sedges, Elm, Alder, Freshwater shrimp, Mayflies and Olives, Needle Flies, Yellow Sally, Willow Flies, Sedge Flies, Brook Lampreys, Bullheads, Stone Loach, Minnows, Wild Rainbow Trout, Grayling, Brown Trout, Dabchicks, Kingfishers, Herons, Coots, Moorhens, Mallards and Water Voles.

Grayling and Trout thriving in this Miniature River

All these are to go if this company is allowed to proceed with its ghastly plan to feed a micro-hydro power scheme capable of a maximum output of 4kw!

The proposed turbine will turn fish into slush and will be killing a fish every few seconds for the next fifty years!

It gets worse.  The dredging will cause more water to flow down this channel instead of down the main river bed.  Half a mile of the main river will lose 35% of its water to this hydro scheme.  The resulting depleted reach will be reduced to a silty trickle.  The traditional spawning gravels in this reach will cease to be of any use to spawning trout.  The good population of adult trout in Bakewell will have no new recruits once this area of the river is depleted and in a few short years will become just a memory of the days before hydro power came to Victoria Mill in Bakewell.

It is only natural for most of us today to default to a supporting position for renewable energy and the proposers of this scheme have set out to capitalise on this by trying to get public opinion behind their plans.  Well this scheme will wreck too much of the best habitat in the Bakewell area for it to be allowed to go ahead without a fight.

There is a blog for folk to register on and to use the comment facility to make their opinions known.  I've registered and hope I can persuade you to help with your comments and blog presences.

Please click on and make your feelings known.  Thank you.

Regular Rod

Tuesday 11 October 2011

A Problem but yet a Tool for Reconnaissance!

Have a look at this photograph from last Friday 6th October 2011 (rather blurred, my apologies).

On Friday the leaves in this very productive feedlane were a nuisance but not an insurmountable problem.  What would happen is that the artificial fly kept getting concealed from the fish during the drift.  Then the leaves would interfere with the tippet.  Finally, on picking off to recast, sometimes a leaf would be caught on the fly, which required instant intervention to avoid twisting up the tippet into a corkscrew in miniature.

The remedy was to simply keep trying but ensuring that the fly was a long way from the target fish before attempting to pick off.  Picking off too close with a leaf being moved unnaturally would scare the fish.  Not perfect but to fish where the fish are needed the fly to be in amongst this floating debris and to be stealthy required this careful and slower process of letting the fly drift a long way down from the fish to avoid the risk of disturbing them.

But just observe with me for a moment.  Look how long that tell tale line of drifting leaves is!  In summer the influence of the feedlane is not so obvious.  It is easy to see it to a foot or so below the last of those trailing stalks.  Now, with all these leaves, it is clear that the feedlane extends way, way down stream.  Next summer, the intelligence gained from this reconnaissance will lead me to make sure I start my approach from "way, way down stream" where the feedlane opportunities really begin and not to just start fishing up there by the trailing stalks!

Regular Rod

Friday 30 September 2011

Gardens of...


Today I went looking for fish that hardly ever (probably never) see an angler.

It involved clambering over garden fences and other obstructions to get to this amazing section of river that is missed out on by so many of the other members of the water I fish most days.  It was worth the effort.

The river is beautiful along here.

The trout are fantastic.

That little bit of effort to fish where the fish are, be stealthy, and observe rewarded me with a superb day of discovery and Sport. 

Are there places where you could fish that are currently overlooked by your fellow anglers?

Regular Rod

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Too Early?

She is mottled already and has claimed this clean bit of gravel.. She hasn't cut a redd on it yet.  The cleared area has been done by an upwelling spring under the river bed.

If she spawns too early it will all be in vain...

Regular Rod

Friday 16 September 2011

A Guest!

My guest today had never seen my water before but it didn't take him very long to appreciate it.  He used the vegetation to hide behind and instinctively fished on his knees or backside. He had a good time too...

It is a joy to look up river and see an angler fishing like this... 

Kneeling, hiding and watching before making his cast

Those fish never knew he was there until it was too late

Regular Rod


Pools like this can be very rewarding. The trick is to get as close as you can without showing yourself to the fish. Make an accurate cast. Then keep as much of the line OFF the water as you can for as long as you can. The rises can be quite casual in despite of the violent water. Strong trout seem to be able to move about in these places with ease.

Regular Rod

Saturday 10 September 2011

Something in common...

Have a look at these fish (apologies for the first two photographs as they were only made with the mobile telephone).  Can you imagine what they all have in common?

Here's a few more clues...

The clue is in the thick overgrowth of brambles, nettles, meadow sweet, willow herb and other assorted thorny, stingy, trippy, tangley and grab hold of you-y plants.  All the fish came from places unfished by most other rods.  At this time of the season, on a popular water, it can be a very productive strategy to deliberately seek out the unfished for fish.  Their quality is usually superb.  The tangled banks provide cover to compensate for the difficult casting.  It is a wonderful way to spend a couple of days of the late season and I commend it to you all.  Get away from the car parks.  Go a bit further than normal.  Be prepared to make long round walks to get to the place you want to begin your fishing and then...


Paradise found!

Regular Rod

Wednesday 7 September 2011


a step-by-step of the Tup's Indispensable (Variant)
For use when the fish prefer to eat one of the flies that we anglers just call the Pale Watery.  There are several flies that get clumped together under the name "Pale Watery" but you don't need lots of different flies to match the hatch.  This very old fly serves well and the modification I have made to the dubbing renders it an even more effective fake of the real thing(s).

The dubbing in this variant of the original is fluorescent Sunrise Pink seal's fur.

Here's the very easy method of making the Tup's Indispensable (Variant)...

This is a size 16 Kamasan B980 the thread is Primrose Yellow, equivalent to Pearsalls' Yellow No.4.  Run on a short bed of the thread.

Tie in a bunch of pale Honey Dun or pale Honey cock hackle fibres to make a tail about as long as the hook shank.

Carry on with tight touching turns back to the start of the thread, tying in the hackle fibres as you go and trimming off any excess hackle fibres.  This makes the body of the fly.

Dub on a very sparse amount of the Sunrise Pink fur.

Wind a short "thorax" over the front part of the body, leaving enough space for the hackle in front, wind a tight ribbing turn onto the thorax as you bring the thread back to the front.

Tie in a pale Honey Dun cock hackle as shewn with the concave side of the hackle outermost.  You can use a very pale Honey hackle if Honey Dun is not available.

Wind the hackle four or five turns to the thread.  Tie it in tightly and wind the thread through the hackle to the hook eye then make a whip finish, varnish the head and clean out the wet varnish from the hook eye with the hackle tip left in your hackle pliers.  There you have it the Tup's Indespensable Variant, which, from July to late September, I would hate to be without.

Regular Rod

Sunday 28 August 2011


Tup's Indispensable Variant
The olives were hard to see through the blizzard of little sedge flies this afternoon and early evening.  A fish took my Double Badger but it was a speculative rise and not convincing.  The sedge flies were certainly not on the menu, in despite of their presence in their millions.  They were airborne and so out of the reckoning.  Then the cloud dispersed momentarily and it was possible to see the olives and see some of them being eaten too!  The flies were what anglers call "Pale Wateries".  There are several species of upwinged flies that can be called a "Pale Watery" it is just about impossible to tell them apart when they are on the water but that is no hardship as long as we can match the hatch with a suitable artificial.  One of the very best is an old fashioned fly called "Tup's Indispensable".  So named because the original dressing called for the dubbed thorax to be made of the creamy pink wool from a Tup's scrotum (Tup is an old word for a Ram or male sheep).  So you can see that for the Tup to be a Tup this part of his anatomy was clearly "Indispensable"...

Just look at the candle flame on his dorsal fin! (click to enlarge)

It was just what was needed and the trout confirmed this by eating it.  Some lovely fish coming to the net as a result.  It would have been an easy matter to have mistakenly put on a sedge fly in response to their massive presence today, but they were not what was being eaten and as soon as the little Tup's Indispensable was deployed the results came thick and fast.

Such distinctive spotting makes it easier to track this brown trout's career

The summer has been good to the trout round here as you can see from the super condition of these two examples.  Old fashioned flies work just as well now as they did over a century ago.  In fact they probably work better today thanks to modern floatants and modern leader materials.

Regular Rod

Saturday 20 August 2011

Frolics in the Froth

Have a look at this.  The flies were getting stuck in this big patch of foam.  So a trout was getting stuck into the stuck flies...

Here's a close up crop that shows the fish rising in the foam and to the left of the fish you can see a couple of the trapped olives.  I put on a Double Badger that would show up well, sat down beside the foam, let a yard of tippet dangle from the tip ring and plonked the Double Badger as near as I could to the rises.  He took it almost immediately and then promptly pulled all the leader and a few yards of fly line out through the guides as he shot up river and then back down again. After a little while he came to the net and the hook fell out as the net took his weight.  I had no cover to hide behind.  All I did was sit there.  The foam hid me well enough.  Amazing what you can get away with sometimes!

Regular Rod

Tuesday 16 August 2011

A friendly reminder...

You may already remember this post from last year and maybe this one too from our winter time anticipations of the new season? 

You might like to see this additional example of similar rewards for being stealthy and observant that led to fishing exactly where the fish was, even though the approach was originally to try for a fish over behind the willow fronds on the other side of the river.  Instead of chucking the line out there and possibly scaring this fish, all that was needed was a very short cast almost under the rod top and a very nice trout was the result.  I didn't know the fish was there until it rose whilst I was taking a few extra moments to have a good look around the pool...

Regular Rod

Sunday 14 August 2011


Is often much easier than it first appears...

From here this looks almost impossible...

A little closer and it still looks somewhat forbidding...

Here you are at the brink of the bank...

Well, well, look what you have found!  Some lovely tree roots that will get you down to the water's edge, give you somewhere to sit below the skyline and...

A good clear view of the feedlane and...

A very easy backcast with only a few obstructions that you can easily avoid by turning to watch the flyline on the backcast as well as on the forward cast.

Find vantage points like this and suddenly the river has a thousand more places from where you can fish.

Regular Rod