Photograph by Steve Barnett

Monday, 23 December 2013

Season's Greetings

From Regular Rod (it's a snap of Bakewell by the Derbyshire Wye)

and from Henry (he wears his hair shorter nowadays...)

Regular Rod

Friday, 20 December 2013

Pop Up?

We had some gales a few weeks ago.  Several trees were blown down.  I wish they were all those dreadful aliens, the sycamores!  No, instead native willows have been the "victims".

Do you remember this picture?

Black Barn Weir Pool
See the big willow on the left?  That was a favourite place for me to sit cross legged on the willow's roots and side-cast up to the fish on station in the various feed lanes below the weir's lasher.  It was low down and it was easy to be inconspicuous down there below the sky line.

Enough space to sit cross-legged
Sitting cross-legged and using the waterproof
trousers as an unhooking mat

Click the pictures for a closer look...

Now look what has happened.  The willow was blown down.  Jan managed to get some of it to pop up again by sawing off lengths of trunk until the weight of the root ball was sufficient to drag what's left of the willow back to an upright position.

Instead of a nice little hidey-hole to sit in, the roots are now a pulpit!  It will be tricky to fish there and not be noticed.

It's not all gloom and doom though.  Jan has saved the tree from total extinction and the trunk will make a splendid pollard in a few months and eventually it will boast a fine Afro-hairstyle like a massive pompom on a stick.  The flies will still land on its leaves to rest and change their skins.  The wren will still creep around those leaves grabbing some of those flies.  A fish may even take up residence under the overhang made by the now airborne roots...

This isn't the first tree to be salvaged by the keepers in making it...  Pop Up!

Regular Rod

Monday, 16 December 2013

Different but the same...

My mother river, the Derbyshire Wye, which taught me so much about dry fly fishing, is said to be only 15 miles long.  In that 15 miles it changes from a moorland trickle of surface water, constantly dripping out of the blackest cauldron of peat you could imagine, to a splendid, limestone, spring-fed river full of life and beauty.  I usually fish along the last few miles, where the land is fat and the river is a peaceful thing, meandering through the almost level pastureland between Bakewell and Great Rowsley.  A few miles upriver the scene is quite different.  The surroundings are steep sided "Dales".  On several occasions I have had the privilege of fishing up here as a very honoured guest and it is a delightful place to be.  There is a footpath open to the public alongside its true left bank and from time to time, in winter, I like to wander along here with a camera.  Last week, hoping to aid recovery following some minor surgery, I went on such a walk and fell in love with this piece of large woody debris.  A photograph simply had to be made in homage to the power of the river and this now dead, but still useful, tree.

The Derbyshire Wye in Miller's Dale
What do you reckon to it?


Wednesday, 13 November 2013

How to Whip Finish Your Flies

How to never lose your whip finish tools?  Keep them attached to your hands!  That way you can always find them.

 1) Hold the thread downwards in tension with your left hand (opposite if you are a southpaw)
 2) Place your first two fingers of your other hand onto the tensioned thread, backs of the fingers to you
 3) Lift the thread in the left hand, still in tension, up level to the fly, turn the right hand so the underside of the fingers face you
 4) Keep the thread in tension with the left hand holding the thread in line with the hook shank, this makes a kind of inverted figure four "4"
 5) Use the fingers of the right hand to turn the thread over the hook shank behind the eye and over the thread alongside the hook shank
 6) Repeat for as many turns as you require
 7) Trap the thread against the hook shank with the left first finger
 8) Remove your right fingers from the loop
 9) Take a needle and hold the loop in tension with the needle
10) Draw the thread tight slipping out the needle as the thread pulls tight, cut off the spare thread and Voila! 

...the whip finish

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Hand of Man or Hand of God?

You will no doubt recall that your faithful blogger has been know to interfere with Nature sometimes...  You might like to consider two examples of locally changing the way the water works in a river.

The first came about when the waders had been donned after the season to clear some rubbish from the river.  Discarded plastic bags are an abomination and so it was decided to get in and get them out.  The opportunity to try something to augment the effect of a little peninsula was just too tempting.  Twenty minutes of picking up stones and placing them in a line resulted in a submerged cobble croy. about nine inches high and about four feet long.  The croy was angled to point diagonally up river and even in low water conditions it could be seen that it had an immediate effect.  There was a nice crease in the current running downstream for quite a few yards from the croy.  This also created a longer eddy than was previously formed by the little peninsula alone.  The hope was that this would increase the fish holding properties just here, especially in high water.

The pink line is where the stone croy lies under the water.
Here you can see the hump in the water cause by the croy and the crease line between the main flow and the eddy at our feet
Well it seems to have worked quite well.   This video below shows you how it is working in high water.  The leaves drifting on the surface let you see the upriver direction of the eddy between this bank and the main current.  Yes it is interference and it was done for selfish reasons, to persuade more fish to take up station here.  Hopefully you will not think ill of your correspondent.  It was a well intended act and if it spoils anything, it can be shifted...

How about when God locally changes the way the water is working?

We had some storms recently and this big Weeping Willow was pruned somewhat as you can see by the below picture...

Down river the, rather large, bough came to rest at the tail of a pool below a large island.  I hope it stays there!  Just look at how it is already causing the flow to scour away at the gravel. 

The river bed rises here a little and might be just what the bigger female trout may want for a new place to make redds and wait for husbands around Christmas time. 

The danger trout face when on the redds comes from piscivorous birds.  On some redds they are easy prey, with nowhere to escape to nearby.  Those trailing branches and fronds of willow are perfectly placed nearby to the newly cleaned gravel for just such emergency escape routes.

So here we have a couple of local changes to the river, its flow and its bed.  Of the two I have a strong feeling that this one made by God will be much more productive and longer lasting... 

That is unless someone interferes and pulls out the willow bough!

Regular Rod

Monday, 4 November 2013

Why join the Wild Trout Trust?

HomeIt's not a perfect organisation but, in the UK, the Wild Trout Trust takes some beating for getting the most out of your donations and membership subscriptions. 

This video gives one answer to the original question...

Enjoy more at the website

Regular Rod

Thursday, 26 September 2013


An early morning stroll along the local trail (a disused railway line now known as the Monsal Trail) with the camera and tripod led to this view of the Derbyshire Wye from one of the viaducts at Miller's Dale. 

Fish were visible to the naked eye, but with an exposure time of more than two minutes all moving things, like traffic on the road, either disappear or, like the water surface, become smoothened out.

Regular Rod

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Ignoring the Trout?

That's what your faithful blogger will be doing until next April.  At least as far as trying to catch them that is.  Grayling in Autumn are the main quarry for a traditionalist like yours truly.  The hen brown trout are nearly all mottled now, a sure sign they are getting into spawning condition for the few weeks around Christmas Day.  The rainbows are in their usual great condition, but... the grayling are in such fine fettle and this IS the nicest time of the year to fish for them.  So... 

A quick check of the fly box and whoa there! The Sturdy's Fancies were in short supply.  There were more in the hat band than in the box!  Ten minutes work and a trio of reinforcements were in readiness.  Here they are...

Matching the hatch is always best but this fly matches so many little midges, smuts, aphids and other micro-species that it sometimes stays on the tippet all day long with no fall-off of Sport.  It is highly commended to all you Autumn Grayling fans.

Regular Rod

Friday, 13 September 2013


Guess where I was taken fishing today!

Not a boast, please be assured, but today was very special and even in the rain it was a delightful chance to celebrate our Noble Sport in the very cradle of fly fishing.  "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's goods!" Well that commandment was broken today and hopefully the Recording Angel is perhaps a retired fisher who may understand and not mark my Soul down too harshly.

If you are coming to England at all and you love fly fishing...  Well let's simply say "You owe it to yourself!"  Email me if you would like to fish (and take luncheon) in the footsteps of Izaak Walton and Charles Cotton.  I will let you have all the necessary contact details.  Every fly angler should fish this special place of pilgrimage at least once in their lives and catch the direct descendants of Izaak's and Charles' trout and grayling.

Regular Rod

A Sure Sign of Autumn Fast Approaching

Your faithful blogger loves misty mornings by the river.  Perhaps because the deeper, sub-conscious mind associates them with joyous times as a boy, Coarse fishing, usually for roach, when the float could trot quite out of sight in the enveloping fogs.

This is not a photograph of some carelessly discarded nylon.  It is one of the amazing threads of silk made by the spiders in the night.  This one spanning well over six feet.  With a coating of misty dew it makes a fine indicator of how the weather is now distinctly Autumnal. 

No river roach for me these days, too far away.

Never mind though, today I am surrounded by rivers that teem with grayling...

How blessed we are to be anglers!

Regular Rod

Wednesday, 4 September 2013


The good folk of Buxton are probably oblivious of the way they treat their river, MY river!

Here for a short length the Derbyshire Wye comes out of a concrete and stone walled tunnel and a few trout manage to eke out a living here below these twenty feet high walls. Ten yards down from the discarded supermarket trolley it is put into another concrete tunnel then, when it comes back out into the light, it is part of a sewage plant and from there on for half a mile it runs in a concrete channel with no life in it.

It is, however, a miraculous river as, at the end of the concrete channel, there is gravel and Ranunculus fluitans, which with the additional water from the many limestone springs in its bed brings it back to life for the rest of its journey to the confluence with the Derwent at Great Rowsley 15 miles from the source.

Regular Rod

Sunday, 25 August 2013

How to Make the Fly Float

This stuff is as good as any product sold specifically for dry fly fishing.  I've been using it for three months now with good results.  The bottle it comes in is a pump action spray bottle so useless for flies.  No matter.  Off with the lid and pour out 10ml into an old Permafloat bottle or similar and put that in your pocket or bag.  When you've tied on your fly just shake your little bottle, open it and dunk your fly in the liquid.  Blow or false cast your fly until it is dry and go dry fly fishing with it.  150ml costs the same as 10ml of branded dry fly floatant...  which is music to a tight fisted Yorkshireman's ears!

Regular Rod

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

How many words to say how this little piece of river can affect the soul?

Even on the bank, it was impossible to resist this sweeping flow and the power of the rapids.  The camera just had to be set up and an attempt made to portray the mood here.  A thousand words could never communicate the full glory of this funnelling run so I hope the photograph might do instead...

Regular Rod

Sunday, 18 August 2013

How To Tie The Fly On

Here is the Grinner Knot, invented by Dick Walker as a strong knot, which relies on tension instead of shear for its strength. 

He made it easy to tie, so his Grandson "Grinner" could tie on his own hooks when they went fishing together.  It may be referred to as the Universal Knot or the Uni Knot in some parts of the world but surely we should honour its brilliant inventor and the Grandson for whom he created it, by giving it its original and correct name?

It is very easy to tie the Grinner Knot:

  1. Hold the fly (hook or swivel) between the index finger and thumb of your left hand (right hand if you are a Southpaw)
  2. Thread the line through the eye (I prefer to thread through the eye from above)
  3. Pull through enough line to make a hairpin with the end laid alongside the main line
  4. Make a loop with the end section round your fingers of the hand holding the fly
  5. Take the end of the line and pass it over and through the loop and round the main line four times
  6. Draw the knot together
  7. Lubricate the knot with spit
  8. Draw the knot down to the hook eye and tighten it very firmly
  9. Blow away the spit
  10. Trim the waste end away
Here is a tier's eye view of the 10 steps above:

Best viewed full screen 
Can you follow these silent videos alright?  Try this knot if you don't already use it and come back and say what you think to it.
Regular Rod

Sunday, 11 August 2013


...for joining two lengths of monofilament is the figure-of-eight knot.  A postscript reference was made to it in this post about leader construction.  It is time to provide a how to tie it post.

The steps are easy:

1 - Have the two ends of the lengths to be joined, laid side-by-side for just over a hand's breadth

2 - Make a loop, with the two lengths leading away from the rod over the top

3 - Put your finger up through the loop from underneath

4- Make two anti-clockwise turns in the loop

4 - Pull the two lengths leading away from the rod through the loop

5 - Check that you have the two lengths all the way through (don't leave the short end behind)

6 - Slowly draw the knot a little tighter until you have a figure-of-eight shape in the knot

7 - Moisten the knot with spit

8 - Draw it tight, holding it tight for a couple of seconds.

9 - Suck the spare spit off the knot

10 - Trim away the waste ends

Here are the 10 steps in a word-free video!

It would seem some mysterious deprecation has been imposed on this video.  Why techies have to fiddle with stuff that is working alright is beyond me but if you cannot view the video here is the link to it on YouTube

Please do give this a try and let me know how you fare with it.  You won't regret learning how to tie this excellent knot.

Regular Rod

Friday, 9 August 2013

Another Thousand Words and a Flash Back

Flash back!

Remember this?
Henry the Assistant
Well here is the result...

King Cups on Ogden Island 25th May 2013
The trout season has only a few short weeks to go.  It seems only yesterday that Henry and I were out taking advantage of the lovely fresh nature of the riverside in May.  Now he and I are on our way back home by 21:00, a sure sign that the Sport will once again be crammed into the hour before noon and the hour after when we chase the grayling instead of the trout

Get out there as much as you can is surely the best policy from now until the autumn.

Regular Rod

Thursday, 1 August 2013


There is a delightful tributary of the Derbyshire Wye.  This is the Lathkill.  A limestone spring-fed river.  When the mother river is brown the Lathkill is often still clear, even when running with an extra foot or so of water after very prolongued and heavy rain.  So on Tuesday evening, after work, the Wye still being coloured, Henry and his pal were to be found by the side of these pellucid waters...

Some of the river is typical of many intimate waters in that there is plenty of cover from which to OBSERVE, stay hidden and STEALTHY and the only extra puzzle is how to get a cast into the right spot to FISH WHERE THE FISH ARE. 

Other parts present a completely different set of questions...

Where the grass is grazed closely like this, the first query is how to OBSERVE rising fish without scaring them.  The remedy is stand well back, Henry is almost too near even for a figure as low to the ground as he is.  "Sit!" was the only way to ensure he scared no fish.

Having seen a rising fish and so discovered WHERE THE FISH ARE it was then necessary to BE STEALTHY to sneak in downstream of the fish and to use what cover there may be, if any, to conceal our intent.

Henry is sitting exactly where his pal had just been kneeling under the overhanging alder leaves.  The rise had been spotted at 30 feet back from the water.  Yes the cast was tricky under the canopy but only one cast was needed.  Thanks to applying those three principles, even though the sheep-shaved bank needed all the preliminaries to be carried out at a safe distance.

Regular Rod

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The Source

What to expect was a puzzle for the mind before "finding" it this last Monday.  A project to document the Derbyshire Wye along its short journey from the moors west of Buxton to the confluence with the Derwent at Rowsley Bridge would be incomplete without a picture of the true source.

Having seen the miserable dribble that begins the mighty river Trent it was natural to be expecting not much at all...


180 degrees wrong!

The source of the Derbyshire Wye is a beautifully shiny, black cauldron cut into the peat bogs of Featherbed Moss, more or less 530 metres above sea level.  The sight is a much more prepossessing spectacle than was expected.  Delight was tempered by the squalls of rain that kept starting and stopping with a horizontal fury that ensured your blogger would be working with cold wet fingers, doing his best to protect the old view camera, its priceless lens and the vulnerable film holders, all the while racing against the fast setting sun.

The Source

The First Yards

No Ducks....   up here the Wye is serenaded by the Go Back! Go Back! of the Red Grouse

Was it worth it? 

You the viewer are the sole arbiter...

Regular Rod

Monday, 22 July 2013


In England, this July has seen us experiencing heat wave conditions and frankly, dry fly fishing in the day has been almost a pain of a pleasure.  You may know this song, which goes some way to illustrate the folly of trying to behave as if the sun is not beating down on our heads and the eyelidless heads of our quarry too!
What have these two fish got in common? 
Yes they were caught at night.  Face the west and you can see the fly until it is quite properly dark.  Unfortunately the hour of proper darkness is getting earlier every night so do try to make the most of the wonderful fly life that appears on the surface of the river on summer nights.
Here's a favourite spot of mine and when the sinking sun tinges the sides of the trees and plants  with copper, brass and gold, it is time to start fishing, NOT time to go home for tea!

Regular Rod

Friday, 5 July 2013

The Definition of a Yorkshireman... a Scotsman with the generosity squeezed out of him!

We Yorkshire folk, even those of us living in Derbyshire, hate wasting stuff such as the very expensive polypropylene yarn like the Tiemco Aero Wing used for the wings of the Poly Prop Sherry (PPS)

I also get a nagging feeling of waste when chucking away items that may have finished their original intention but are so nicely engineered it seems to be a sacrilege not to find a good alternative use for them.  Such items include 35mm film cassettes.  Here's a way to economise on the amount of yarn used up in tying a few flies and put those old 35mm film cassettes to good use...

Just wind the yarn onto the spool, load it back into the cassette with one end of yarn sticking out of the original light trap and there you have an ideal dispenser that saves you from wasting that little bit that is always left if you simply cut off a length to tie a few flies with.  You gain the same economy that you get by using a bobbin holder for your thread.


Sunday, 30 June 2013

Some Success At Last...

Last year's failure is now just a distant memory!

A nice Grilse from the Dess Fishings' Lower March Pool on Scotland's magnificent river Dee, which took the fly at precisely 3 o'clock in the afternoon.

Here is a picture from the morning...
My clothes drying in the fishing hut after a brief immersion in the sacred waters!
Now it's back to DRY fly fishing where your faithful blogger is convinced he does understand at least a little of what is going on and also rarely falls in...

Regular Rod

Friday, 21 June 2013


Now we can once more get back to proper dry fly fishing with proper sized flies instead of the budgerigars and canaries we deployed during the festivities with the Drake.  This was brought home to your faithful blogger's attention the other evening when in despite of the presence of many Drake Spinners, the fish eschewed them nearly all, in preference of something much smaller.  They were eating the spinners of the Blue Winged Olive, the Sherry Spinners.  So off with the Poly Prop Spent Gnat (PPSG) and on with a finer tippet and a Poly Prop Sherry (PPS) to the new improved recipe...

It was a lovely evening.  Henry was glad to be coming along and behaved remarkably well just as long as fish were being caught.  Moments of reflective contemplation were interrupted by plaintive whinings to get on with it and go catch another!

The meads were beautifully spotted with purple clover and yellow buttercups.  Their colours seemed more luxuriant in the setting sunlight.

There were flies in abundance...

Rising fish taking advantage of their welcome presence...

and so it went on until it was too dark to see the fly anymore.

I realised I hadn't made a single photograph all evening of any fish so put that right with this snap of a little brown trout that I decided was to be the last fish of the evening as we had a mile or so to walk back home and Henry needed his evening session of retriever training... 

On the way back he found a soccer ball in the river.  It was deflated somewhat, so he was able to get hold of it in his jaws and bring it in to his pal to whom all "prey" must be handed in as tribute!


Thursday, 20 June 2013

Free Fly Fishing Event for Women

Fly fishing blogger Irene of 1WomanFlyFishing has organised a special event on June 30th just for women at Press Manor Fishery in the Peak District. 

The instructor is none other than Peter Arfield of the Bakewell Fly Fishing Shop so if you do attend it will be a very good investment of your time. 

Here you can read all about it on Irene's blog.

Have a good time!

Regular Rod