Firstly, apologies for the delay in sending out this first newsletter of 2018. The reason is that I was clobbered by the flu and it was a bit more than a couple of days of aches and coughs. Although I may moan a lot it is very rare that I'm too ill to go fishing ('the fresh air will do me good!') - but on this occasion the Tay salmon season had to open without me! (the party I should have been joining didn't manage to find a sealiced springer this year but they did enjoy some action with good sized grayling, which were quite a handful on a 3 weight rod in such heavy water).
Ready for ActionOn many days it may still feel like the depths of winter but, even through the gloom, the extra daylight time is obvious and - from the orders we're receiving - it's clear that lots of people are already starting to think about the season ahead. Others just don't stop fishing in these colder months and from talking with several of them they are quietly doing rather well. For many of us now is a great time to be sorting out our gear. Here's a few of the things I do to make sure I don't hit problems on my first days on the water:
- Rods - benefit from a thorough wiping clean, especially the rings. If you use kitchen paper you may be surprised how dirty it looks afterwards!
- Reels - Cleaning and a little oil and/or grease keeps everything running smoothly
- Lines - You can improve your casting distance (and make your lines last longer) by running them through wet kitchen paper, then treating them with something like Fish Pimp Renew solution.
- Leader material - check you've got all the diameters, breaking strains you need - and that there's more than a few inches left on the spool!
- Flies - If you're anything like me these will be all over the place at the end of the season so do try to restore some semblance of order and fill in any gaps. You might also want to have a look at any interesting new patterns that weren't previously available. Nothing boosts confidence more than tying on a new pattern that has been working wonders for lots of other people!
New FliesTalking of new patterns Fulling Mill have lots of them for 2018 (68 in total, across all categories) - from great new pike flies to tempting trout catchers from Davie McPhail. They're not on our website right now because FM have yet to receive stock - but look out for them later this month when the shipment reaches the UK. New flies from our own ranges are introduced throughout the year - as soon as we can get our hands on them. The very latest are bonefish patterns so, if you're heading for the sunshine do have a look at our brand new Bonefish Bugs and the Spawning Shrimp, all proven in action on flats from Cuba to Christmas Island. The Bugs replicate a pattern which was briefly available quite a few years ago, successfully used and much loved by regular flats fishers - then it disappeared, until I tracked down the unusual (Chinu) hooks for our tyers and brought it back!
Here at last! - I've been trying to get these little beauties into our range for some time
SnakeletsFor those of you desperately waiting for more Snakelets - our top selling fly last year - which many people found to have almost magical qualities when it came to tempting difficult fish from the depths, the good news is that they should be with us soon. The other fly that really showed its worth in the last few months of last year was a Marabou Tailed Diawl Bach - and yes, that tail really did make a well tested and significant difference. Here's evidence in the shape of a lovely fish that just cleared the 5lb mark, taken on that fly on the 20th December. Look out for this fly coming into stock soon!
5-1, on a rather good day for this winter!
Staying on the price of flies how does £22,000 for 47 of them sound? That's what Lot 630, 'a collection of salmon flies tied by Megan Boyd', made at Mullock's auction on the 3rd February. We can provide reassurance on various aspects of our flies but this sort of return on investment is not one of them I'm afraid!
Bin EndsIn order to make space for the new flies it is time to say goodbye to some of the old ones. These discontinued patterns, together with others tied - for example - on hooks which are perfectly good but not as specified, are moved into our hugely popular 'Bin Ends' section. All top quality flies but no longer mainstream stock items, so offered at a big discount to help us clear the decks. Offering fantastic value the bin ends section is a happy hunting ground for many of our regular customers. Please note that we are updating this part of our stock right now so more patterns are being added each day. Have a look and see if you're tempted to join them but don't leave it too late because 'when they're gone......' (plus, having just taken the photo below I may pinch a few!)
Here are just a few examples of the flies you can find in our Bin Ends
On the WaterIt's not for the faint hearted in the British Isles at the moment but the new salmon season is underway - as we can tell by the steady demand for 2 inch copper tubes! (Incidentally, the Black & Yellow Skullhead from Fulling Mill was THE early season fly of choice last year). Elsewhere, when the rivers settle down after all the rain, there are grayling to target and - on the trout front - many small stillwaters stay open all year round whilst almost all of the bigger reservoirs start in the first or second week of March. Black and Green patterns such as the Black Eyed Pea or the Beadhead Straggle Black Cat are bankers for the start of the season. Meanwhile, some lucky people are swapping the scarves for the suncream - here's David King, visiting Aitukati at the moment who sent us this shot of a solid Giant Trevally which took a liking to one of the flies he bought from us for the trip.
Plenty of room for a 6/0 hook in that mouth!
New Conservation MeasuresThere has been much activity recently on measures to try to protect our threatened stocks of both Salmon & Sea Trout and Bass. The picture - as it stands at the moment, and which has received a mixed reception from recreational fishermen and women - is as follows:
N.B. the following information is subject to final decision making by the Environment Agency and Welsh Assembly respectively.
Salmon and Sea Trout
In England most commercial/net fisheries will close either this year or next, saving more than 20,000 salmon a year, mostly from the North East drift nets. On most rivers catch and release will be voluntary (on the understanding that this is at a high - and increasing - level). However on some 'at risk' rivers all fish must be returned - these rivers are likely to include the Lune, Ribble, Tees and others. Finally, according to the Angling Trust website restrictions on tackle/hooks etc. that may be used will be addressed by a code of good practice rather than legislation.
In Wales, the proposals are rather more draconian. They are - mandatory catch and release on all rivers, a maximum size limit for sea trout of 60cm and a ban on barbed hooks, trebles and worming.
We will update the above once the final decisions are made.
Bass - We may fish for bass throughout the year (a total ban on targeting bass at all during the first six months of the year was narrowly averted) on a 100% catch and release basis. There will be a review of stocks during the first half of 2018 and the possibility of the introduction thereafter of a limited allowance for bass to be taken by anglers. Significant measures have been taken to reduce limits for commercial fishermen.
BFFIThe British Fly Fair International (to give it its full name) takes place this weekend at the Staffordshire County Showground - find out more HERE. This show has grown substantially over recent years and it is now a real cornucopia for fly fishers and fly tyers (my challenge is to spend less than we take over the 2 days!) Jessica and I will both be there and we'd love to see you.
Tight Lines and very best wishes - hope to see you or hear from you soon!
Martin and Jessica
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