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The Tinkerbell Effect - a vital part of fishing success!

The Tinkerbell effect refers to things that are made to happen only because people believe in them - we normally refer to it more prosaically as 'fishing with confidence' and it just might be the single most important contributor to success on the water (possibly after superb flies of course!) and the good news is that - unlike Simms waders and Loomis rods etc - it costs...absolutely nothing!

Let me share a couple of recent examples of Tinkerbell at work. Firstly, back in August I spent a few days salmon fishing in Scotland with a couple of friends. One of them, although a hugely experienced fly fisherman, had never caught a salmon before but I was hugely confident that we could change that - I even took a bottle of champagne to celebrate when it happened! By Saturday morning on a difficult week some serious focus was required. I picked out a Hot Cone Frances for Chris, offered a few words of encouragement and, 15 minutes after he tied it on, a beautiful bright grilse was on the bank. That was good but the interesting thing for me was what he said afterwards as he continued down the pool, which was - 'I feel completely different now - I can do this!' He then proved it by hooking another fish a few minutes later!

Success at last!

The second example came from watching Andy Ford's 'On the Bank' TV programme - Andy was fishing for mullet with Selectafly Pro Team member, the Mullet Master himself, Colin Macleod. Andy is a hugely experienced fly fisherman who has been a member of the England Rivers team - and he was fishing the same water as Colin with the same set-up and the same flies. At one point he said 'I just don't understand it - I'm doing everything the same as him but Colin's catching fish and I'm not!' I can understand it because I've been there too when I first fished with Colin. I am convinced that the difference was/is that Colin is supremely confident that he will catch fish whereas Andy and I were much more sceptical - hopeful rather than sure. For both of us, once we were over the initial hurdle success came much more easily (although Colin is still the best there is at this game!)

So how do you get this X factor? Experience and time on the water is certainly part of it but what's even more important is how you spend that time and endlessly repeating a process that isn't working is not the way forward. Absorb information from wherever you can get it - there are many sources, but especially watching what's happening in and around the water on the day - and use it to change tactics, flies, location etc. etc. until you find out what's working - then enjoy the moment and bank that experience for another day.

Personally, I'm always rather surprised and aggrieved when I fish out a cast WITHOUT catching a fish - and if it's not this one it's bound to be the next (massively over optimistic as always!)

An Epic Battle!

Here's an example of that vital importance of watching what's going on around you - and acting on it, even when it requires a little effort to do so! It comes from my brother who was fishing the Welsh Dee a couple of weeks ago.

'I arrived to find a high and slightly coloured river after all the recent rainfall. After fishing all the main pools down without a touch I was ready for home, snipped off the fly and wound in; walking away from the river bank I looked back to see the remains of a rise that was evidently not from a trout. After a moment's thought, I re-tackled up and tied the Calvin's Shrimp Conehead back on again. I covered the water where I had seen the rise but without any joy and deciding on one last cast, I moved down a few paces. As the fly swung round, the water exploded with a take more like a GT than a salmon. And then the fun started; the fish went berserk around this very wide and long pool; after about 5 minutes of runs and jumps it decided to leave the pool in the direction from which it had come and it ran as fast as anything I have been attached to, burning my fingers in the process. 150 yards downstream, it paused to find a good big submerged tree where it sought refuge - stuck fast. 

After 5 minutes of futile pulling and hoping, I didn't really have any option but to take to the swollen river to follow it down, half swimming and half hanging onto whatever trees I could grab hold of. I finally got alongside the snag and could feel that the fish was still attached; I was using 7.3kg Stroft as the leader and it had miraculously held despite all the abuse this fish had caused it (that's why we love it!). More pulling and hoping but still the fish would not budge so at that stage I felt I was going to have to pull to break. I let the line go slack to get enough to wrap around my arm and the fish swam out of the snag as good as gold! Now reattached properly, I then had to swim/crab all the way back to the only place that I had a chance of landing him 150 yards upstream. After about 40 minutes in total, I landed, admired and returned a fish of around 16lbs that looked like it had been in the river for about 10 days. An epic battle which I will remember for a long time.'

The successful Conehead Calvin's Shrimp    - a great late season fly


More success with salmon

The third story of recent success with Selectafly salmon flies comes courtesy of the Electric Blue Cascade. Here's what William Shaw reported recently:

'Faced with falling water on a Highland river, which still retained some colour, I selected Martin's Electric Blue Cascade on the basis that it would be very visible to the fish. 3 hours later I had landed four, lost two more good fish, had several other offers and felt that I had been given a deadly new pattern!'

Saltwater Fly Fishing Festivals

Orvis liked the idea of a Saltwater Fly Fishing Festival so much that they set up their own event, held last weekend on the south coast around Chichester. We hear that a good time was had by all, especially - judging by the smile on his face - Dan Hunwick - who caught this cracking Golden Grey Mullet on a fly from our Mullet Masters selection that he'd wisely invested in to prepare for the event. Congratulations to Dan and everyone else who notched up a success story over the weekend.

Nice fish, nice photo - well done Dan!

The original St Mawes based event, now in its 6th year, will take place between the 1st and 4th of October - a little later than usual but chosen around the best fishing tides, with all the key target species still very much around. For many of those who attend this is an annual event that can't be missed - a chance to spend a few days in a truly wonderful part of the country, doing a bit of fishing, picking up some new tips and techniques, and enjoying the friendly competition. There's still time to sign up if you're tempted - call Amelia Whittaker on 01326 279278 or call us on 01753 883366 if you want to find out more. (Latest news - the Festival is still on but, to comply with new Covid restrictions, with dramatically reduced numbers - so if you're tempted act fast)

Talking of saltwater fly fishing we are actually just back ourselves from a few days on the Llyn Peninsula and yes, quite a few bass were tempted by our flies! We were fortunate enough to experience the amazing sight of mackerel carving up huge shoals of bait, sometimes literally at our feet - in six inches of water! The bird action was like a scene from a Hitchcock film and afterwards the shoreline shimmered with the bodies of tiny silver baitfish. Top scoring flies on this trip were the Salty Baitfish Anchovy - it looks more like a Mackerel to us and the bass! - and a fly that is proving its worth all the time and all around the country - Oz's Euro Bass Clouser. Apparently this was THE bass pattern during the Orvis event - and it does have a happy knack of finding the better fish.

Trout and About

In all the excitement I nearly forgot to talk about the number one target fish for most of us - our beloved trout, whether brown or rainbow. September and indeed into October and beyond normally sees some of the very best stillwater action of the season. Although the great all-rounders such as Tadpoles, Diawl Bachs etc. etc. are still doing their stuff, now is the time when Daddies and Fry patterns really come into their own. We have pulled together a great range of the flies you - our customers - buy the most of in each category so why not trust in the 'wisdom of crowds' and invest in a Dancing Daddies or Fry Bashers selection - there are no 'fillers' in these packs, every one is there on merit. Buy both and until the end of the month we'll throw in 4 extra flies worth £5.55!

These are the free flies you could receive

Most of us have probably read about the apparent huge growth in sales of fishing licences this year as people have either taken it up or got back into it again. Let's hope that they've had fun and stick at it - falling club membership and fisheries struggling because of lack of interest isn't good news for the future of fly fishing. So, here are a couple of suggestions which might help youngsters or other beginners enjoy that vital early success.

Number one is the deadly 'bung' - this is a massively effective way to present flies - and from the bank or an anchored boat the number of casts required is dramatically reduced - and if necessary you can help a youngster or beginner by casting for them and then handing the rod over. Repeated casting, especially shooting lots of line, is hard, and demoralising when it goes wrong. Deploy the bung - just don't be surprised when your protege catches the best fish of the day!

Number two is dapping - yes it may sound a bit quirky but think about it for a moment - easy to set up, maybe a foam Daddy on the dropper and an all purpose nymph like a Diawl Bach or a Hare's Ear a couple of feet below it - and almost certain to get some action at this time of year. As boys we used to love dapping in Scotland and the sight of a 5 pound sea trout piercing the side of a wave on Loch Oscaig one evening to engulf my Rat Faced McDougal is forever etched into my memory! Glasgow Anglers will sell you a telescopic dapping rod for less than £50 - a few yards of dapping line and someone who might otherwise struggle to fish effectively from a drifting boat is very much in the game!

A new fly for you to try

Our barbless tungsten beadhead Anato May nymphs - a pattern which was developed in the U.S. - have been very popular and successful in both the Olive and Peacock versions but - until I saw it featured recently in FlyLife, the Australian fly-fishing magazine - I'm slightly embarrassed to say that I had not thought of combining the Anato May style with the most popular and deadly nymph body material of all - Hare's Ear. We have now put that right - here it is and this one is going to work brilliantly!

September really is a great month for us fly fishers so do get out there and grab your share of the action!

With very best wishes from us both,

Jessica and Martin