Thursday, 20 March 2014

What I hope to be using in two weeks.

Unlike my Northern brethren I haven't yet started fishing for trout. I have two weeks to go and I'm getting a bit feverish. I've had one session so far this year; I'll blame the weather for most of it. Things have been much more settled recently, the leaves are unfurling, my peach trees have been in blossom for a couple of weeks already. It seems certain that we won't have a repeat of last years unreasonably cold spring and that adds further to my anticipation.

As I live around an hours drive from most of my fishing I haven't spent any time near a river. I sit at home or work dreaming that the large dark olives have been hatching and steadily increasing in numbers as we head towards opening day.

I am about to join a club, giving me access to many miles of wild trout and grayling on three different rivers. This is the first time I will have been a member of a fly fishing club, I can't wait for the new opportunities that await.

The Barbour Paradun
I've been busy tying up LDO imitations with the main one being a fly I've called the Barbour Paradun. I had already revealed this fly on this blog and had called it the wax bodied olive dun. This fly is the amalgamation of a couple of patterns. I am a big fan of Peter Hayes' flies; I have used them for a long time. As I've said before the PhD is one of my favourites. Another fly is the Muskrax.

The Muskrax showing it's silk abdomen and the PhD with it's paraloop hackle, mallard wing.

Essentially I've taken the shape of the PhD and instead of the dubbed body and thorax I have used an all silk body soaked in liquid wax. The muskrax has a silk abdomen soaked in wax so I see no reason why the whole fly can't have a silk body.There is another very well known fly that features a silk body; the greenwells glory of course. This adds further weight to the assumption that the Barbour Paradun will work very well. The wax is by Veniards, I don't know of any other suppliers. Just to note with the liquid wax; it needs a couple of coats and it dries to a tacky finish, it won't come off the fly but allow it a couple of days before putting them in your fly-box.

Colour wise I've narrowed it down simply to two colours, light and dark olive. The silk used is pearsals silk in one colour, yellow. To get a darker fly I pull the silk through cobblers wax, incidentally just as you would when tying the greenwells. The liquid wax is coloured too, a rich yellow olive which also helps to colour the fly. 

The fly itself is simple to tie. The tail is made up of micro-fibbets, medium dun and dark dun for light and dark flies respectively. The hackle is tied in the normal paraloop way, light and medium grey dun are all you need. Mallard silver flank is used for the wing. Tied at the front and split into a V by the thread used for the paraloop post. In the absence of mallard dyed medium dun, I have used a marker pen to colour the wing on the darker version. As yet I don't know how colourfast it is.

Aside from the light and dark versions I have tried a couple of other colours I bought at the BFFI. I have a nice light(ish) olive silk that may mean I won't need to pull the yellow through cobblers wax thus speeding up tying. The other colour is a yellow olive.

The new colours give some interesting results. The light olive silk comes out a little darker than the yellow silk pulled through cobblers. The yellow olive silk turns a dark rich brown which may not be entirely useful for baetis imitations but a useful colour to be aware of.

I can't wait for my first afternoon on the river, fingers crossed I'll get to tie a dry-fly on.

Monday, 10 March 2014

First session of the year, last for the grayling.....for now.

Things have been hectic. I have finally moved house; I will never move again. I can't recall an experience that left me so frustrated with people who are paid to do a job, yet are seemingly incapable of doing it. I digress.

Fishy things have been slow since the new year. I had an aborted half-arsed attempt at lure fishing on some of the local drains during the first week of the year. The wind was incessant and bitter. The sheer amount of rain this winter limited my options as far as fly fishing was concerned. My only grayling river has been a consistent brown colour whatever the level. I became despondent; fishing moved well down the list of priorities.
At the BFFI with Ant77

I had a great day at the BFFI on the 8th February, I met a few forum members and others who don't frequent the boards, thanks to Toby at Funky Fly Tying for the invite. I haven't tied a fly since BFFI, I'm hoping to get into the swing of things this week. My first fly fishing trip of the year on Saturday should have provided the impetus I need.

I was invited by Mike to fish up in Dovedale. A river I have never fished before, it reminded me of the Derbyshire Wye. Only slightly bigger in size than my own rivers but with much more velocity in flow, the river was slightly coloured and pushing through well.

This spring is in stark contrast to last years. I had my fingers crossed for a LDO hatch that might provide a fish to a dry-fly.
The view that welcomed my arrival, the river running along the bottom of the valley along the trees.
The day started cold and misty, the view of Dovedale as I came round the corner was spectacular. Nothing much to see in my home area save for twenty miles of uninterrupted views in all directions. Mike was already in the car park waiting for me when I arrived, he had kindly pre-paid for my parking ticket. I was salivating as I looked at the river whilst getting out of my car. Mike and I caught up and chatted with a gentleman who was also fishing.

Dovedale is very popular with tourists, Mike suggested while it was early and still quiet that we try an area where the path ran alongside the river. Later on in the day there was a constant stream of traffic on the footpaths. I chose a tantalising run that flowed along our own bank. Half a dozen trees lining the bank made me conscious of my casting. I tied on a red tag variant bead head on the point; this was a size 12 grub hook with a 2.8mm tungsten bead. The dropper was a size 14 Utah killer bug.

Mike left me and went further upstream. I had been fishing for less than five minutes when I hooked a fish. Its instant gyrating told me I had hooked a grayling and it felt a good fish. A great fight which took me into a fast run just below where I hooked it. Before I netted the fish Mike had disappeared round a corner. As the fish rested I asked a couple who were walking if they would mind asking Mike to come back. As I was waiting for Mike to come back JT and Woz walked past and had a quick chat before moving on. Mike arrived having also had a chat with them and I got some pictures of the grayling. It was by no means big, but it was bigger than what I normally catch.

My first grayling, we reckoned it was around a pound and a quarter.
They always look smaller in the pictures.
The fish was returned and we moved on. The day proved quite difficult. Mike and I fished a lot of very likely looking holes and runs and I have no doubt that we swam our flies past plenty of fish but by the end of the day I had caught three grayling; the first being the biggest. I only saw two duns on the wing and no rises.

Mike fishing a cracking looking pool, I would love to swing a sculpin in here in the summer.
As it turned out we weren't the only ones to struggle that day though of course JT did far better than any of us and I was the only one who didn't catch a trout. All of my fish fell to the red tag variant and the day ended with much warmer and pleasant.

The views along the valley were breath-taking, to me anyway.
Being a tourist next to on of the many springs that feed the river.