Variety is the Spice of Life - and Fly Fishing!
There is no doubt that, so far, the summer of 2018 has been more than challenging for most of us, most of the time. And yet, in the midst of this adversity, those prepared to adapt their approach - and sometimes change their target species - have been well rewarded for their efforts.
For example, Pro Team member Matt Harris, just back from Norway and slowly recovering from the loss of a huge salmon, estimated when it jumped, by himself and two Finnish fellow fishers, at 20 kilos! - is now turning his attention back to what he tells me are 'the permit of the Fens', the ultra shy chub of the river Cam. He says that these are the most difficult fish EVER to tempt on a fly - but he can't resist the challenge!
For myself the alternative challenge came in the shape of another fish which is not put off in the slightest by warm water and bright sunshine - the thin lipped mullet. I was lucky enough to be invited to join Colin Macleod (another member of the Pro Team) and a friend of his down on the South Coast recently. With Colin leading the way, the three of us caught 15 fighting fit mullet in the 3-4lb range, many of them on the new Red Tagged Romy's Mud Shrimp
. With plenty of other fish hooked and lost it is clear that, with the right location, the right flies and the right approach, it is possible to do very much better than catching the very occasional fluky fish. Sometimes the fish were so close we were on our knees to avoid spooking them!
The recipe for success was plenty of mullet, clearly feeding in shallow water both before and after low water, a longish (12-13 feet) leader of 10.4 lb Grand Max Soft Plus
with two flies from our mullet range
, 3-4 feet apart and a rather quicker retrieve than I had been expecting, not - for these thin lips - a 'dead drift'. The longer leader allows you to cast into the middle of the pack without spooking them on the fly line.
On the subject of UK saltwater fly fishing, don't forget that the fourth Kilchoman Festival
is taking place in St Mawes from the 28th
to the 30th
September. This year, as well as all the advice on offer there will be some serious cash prizes - £1,000 each for the winner of the separate Amateur and Pro (those in the fly fishing business) sections! - and the event organiser, Amelia Whitaker, has arranged a fantastic £60 per night deal at the Ship & Castle Hotel
, located right on the harbour in the heart of the village. Please call Martin on 01753 883366 if you want to find out more about this great weekend away in a lovely part of the country.
Turning to saltwater fly fishing rather further afield, Martin and his brother Jonathan took advantage of a great value deal offered at the London Fly Fair for a late July trip to Cuba's Cayo Cruz. Highlights of a very successful week are shown below:
A real (weighed!) 10lb bonefish, a solid tarpon and a beautiful permit. Successful flies included the Avalon Shrimp
and the Sideswiper Crab
(3 permit on the latter)
Right now I'm thinking of putting a group together for another trip at a similar time next year. Not peak time for Cuba but still plenty of good fish around as the photos show - and a good price too (approx. £3k including flights), 6 full days fishing, direct flights from Gatwick to Cayo Coco and staying at a new hotel 2 minutes walk from the boat dock. Call us on 01753 883366 if you want to learn more.
Outlook for Late Summer
At last we appear to have entered a slightly cooler, wetter weather pattern with higher water levels and lower temperatures. This means that fisheries - such as Farmoor reservoir
(recently ranked 3rd in the country's top trout fisheries) - which were closed for fishing to protect the stressed fish are now opening up again. On the salmon rivers which have had rain fish which have been waiting out at sea all summer are now moving upstream.
Fly suggestions are as follows:
- Snake patterns
can be deadly at this time of year and we have a great range to choose from. Our deadly Snakelets
have been our best selling flies over the past year with lots of repeat orders and Fulling Mill have now significantly enhanced their range with lots of mini versions (I wonder where they got that idea from!?) including weighted and booby options. The ever reliable Blobs
will still be delivering, often as a FAB or Booby version on the point of a washing line set-up.
However, those wishing to tune in to the more season specific approach will be turning to Hoppers and Daddies on the floating line as well as targeting the fry bashers. We have great 'Top Performer
' selections for these annual events - in the shape of our Dancing Daddies
and Fry Bashers
- simply the biggest selling patterns in each category, at a solid discount to buying the flies separately.
River Trout and Grayling
- Sedges are important right now and I enjoyed a great evening on the Itchen last week with a small Stimulator
. Fish may be less inclined to take flies off the surface during the day so either tempt them into making the effort with a big juicy Daddy
or maybe a Hi Float Hopper
(which again worked for me last week) or get down to their level with a heavy nymph such as the Riffle Nymph
, a PTN Grub
or a Czech nymph
- at this time of year red and orange patterns can start to come into their own so, not forgetting old faithfuls such as the Willie Gunn and the Silver Stoat, do make sure you have a few Flamethrowers
and Ally's Shrimps
(I like the RS Squid
version very much) in your fly-box. And always remember that the Red
) Frances can get you hooked up to fish that just aren't interested in a more traditional fly and approach (one of these is what Matt hooked his big fish on)
And don't forget the carp! We don't hear of many grass carp being caught on the fly - but here is one of c. 10lbs caught recently by regular customer Nick Barry along with 9 more commons and mirrors for a highly entertaining day.
No new knot this time but an interesting snippet of information. The simple half blood knot, used for attaching fly to leader, is often maligned for being weak and prone to slipping (although this 'bad press' and much advice not to do so hasn't stopped me using a 5 turn version for most of my trout fishing over many years - with neither of these problems). Lo and behold, in the current edition of Fly Fishing and Fly Tying magazine we are told that an 8 turn version of this simple knot was in fact the strongest of the 6 knots tested.