Photograph by Steve Barnett

Sunday, 1 April 2018

All Fool's Day 2018...

...  fell on Easter Day this year!

The rain had been so heavy that the Club's breakfast morning in the Baden Powell Fishing Hut was cancelled.  30 motor cars stuck in the mud would have been dreadful, not to mention the wrath of the tenant farmer for the destruction of his pasture land!

Instead it was breakfast at home and then out to a lovely tributary of the mother river.  This little river is a pure limestone spring-fed river, the only one in England.  As you can see from these snaps, the water is as clear as gin.  The trout can see you from a distance.  Stealth is even more vital here than it is on the mother river, the Derbyshire Wye.  Scare a trout on the Wye and you ruin your chances in that pool for quite a while.  Scare a trout in this tributary and you can ruin your chances for a hundred yards or more and for an even longer time. These trout are beautiful, well fed creatures with gold and red bejewelled skins.  They make it worth the angler's while to be very careful and very stealthy in the approach.

Henry was delighted to be helping with the fishing again and seemed to know in advance exactly where we were going to sit.  He did move over to let your correspondent get in position but only after hissed instructions to "Budge Up!".

The plan was to stop fishing once six had been caught (and released).  It was a good plan, which kept us on the move, catching only one fish at each place we decided to fish.  The first fish was caught by prospecting with a likely fly, the Double Badger.  The Double Badger works well when Large Dark Olives are on the water and as these flies were expected to show up at any time, the Double Badger was put on (and kept on).

The Large Dark Olives duly appeared shortly after the second fish was returned.  This made finding and catching the last four a lot easier...

This trout was the fifth caught.  It had a large leech on it, which was removed immediately, after all, one good turn deserves another!  A healed hole was evident on its right upper body just below and in front of the dorsal fin.  The heron will have missed a meal a few months ago and this trout will get to pass on its survivor genes to its progeny, if it can keep out of harm's way until Christmas!  The markings are very distinct so an ID photograph was made.  It will be easy to recognise if caught again.

It would have been easy to give All Fool's Day a miss but this happy angler was glad that the effort was made.  The reward was better than any chocolate egg could ever be!

Did you all celebrate Easter this year with a spot of fishing?

Regular Rod

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

"Anticipation is ...

the greater part of pleasure" according to Angela Carter, and I guess she was right. 

Certainly the members of the Peacock Fly Fishing Club have plenty to anticipate this year.  The annual pre-season meeting got underway last night in the restaurant at Haddon Hall and it was packed!  

More than sixty of us turned up to get our membership cards and this year's first newsletter.  Bodies and souls were kept together with a variety of fresh cut sandwiches and chips (chips in England are French Fries in America). 

Our popular, and highly innovative, river keepers held everyone's keen attention with their thoughtfully worked out agenda.  The subjects of which included:
  • phosphate stripping,
  • invasive non native species and their effect on water clarity,
  • our glorious osprey and the efforts made to help him make Haddon his marital home,
  • the availability of emergency fly fishing supplies in the Baden Powell Fishing Hut, which will be managed via an honesty box,
  • the opening day breakfast to be prepared and held therein and...
  • the news of more coarse fishing water available to members at the little lake by Youlgrave! 

This water is a marvellous venue to take a beginner for their first fishing trip.  Your faithful correspondent had the pleasure a couple of years ago to take a very good friend who had been trying for years, without success, to get her river keeper husband to teach her some of our Gentle Art... 

Here she is having some great success using a garden cane rod with home-made bird quill float and enjoying every moment of it too!

Lift Bite!
A Bream
All Fools' Day is this Sunday.  The weather forecast is poor.  Who cares?  Not me!  Enjoy your season dear reader, remember Woody Allen reckons that 80% of success is turning up...

Regular Rod

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Needle Knot

The stats indicate that the most popular post of this blog is the one explaining how to make leaders for dry fly fishing. 
That post includes the line drawing that shows how to make the needle knot to attach the fly line but there was no picture of the finished knot.  So here you are.
Still pretty neat...

Regular Rod

Friday, 25 August 2017

Chopping and Changing

Today we went to Duck Holds Wood.  Sometimes this dry fly fishing can be hard work.  Hard work in that a fair bit of chopping and changing was needed for fish to be tricked into making that mistake we all want them to make.  The first pool had the occasional rise showing.  The water was boisterous so a very visible fly was chosen, the Nondescript Sedge.  It was probably the right fly as there were lots of sedge flies over and on the water.  After a couple of fish it was time to move.  The method had really been more of an exploratory bit of prospecting as the rises were nowhere near four to the minute, the usual signature of confident fish feeding at the surface. 

One of the steady risers that seemed to be eating midges and fell for the Sturdy's Fancy
The next pool up is a lovely gliding bit of water that is actually full of snags.  Here the fish were rising very confidently to something small.  No olives were showing so midge was guessed as the main course for this dainty remove.  On with a Sturdy's Fancy, your blogger has given up on the attempts to devise the perfect midge and now reverts to this fly, or else a tiny Grey Duster or even an Aphid but tied with a black body.  The Sturdy's Fancy proved to be ideal and a few more fish came to the net, much to Henry's delight (and mine).

A happy chappy!

Moving upriver, the fish were back to occasional rises in a lovely run by a veritable thatch of willow.  The tiny fly was ignored.  This time a Double Badger was deployed as there was no real sedge fly activity but the Double Badger hints at so many different types of fly and the fish often fall for it.  So it was here.  This is a lovely pool but it took me four seasons of visits before I ever caught anything here.  The fish were there to be seen but catching them was harder than it should have been.  Now, with a bit of thinking, it is usual to catch at least one fish here.

Sturdy's Fancy on a favourite rod, the Wilson International, a very traditional English Dry Fly Rod

So it went on, here a gliding pool with fish rising steadily, on with the Sturdy's Fancy.  There some boisterous water with fish either not showing or only rising occasionally, on with the Double Badger.  This was the way, swapping between these two flies and replacing the tippet when it became too short for the work in hand.  It's not really hard work but it could easily have remained undone to the detriment of our prospects today.  Today wasn't one of those, "Try every fly in the box!" days, only three flies were needed.  This wasn't haphazard.  It was necessary because, along these three delightful furlongs, fish behaviour varied today according to the type of water they were living in.

You will be aware that your faithful correspondent hesitates to make photographs of fish these days, preferring to get them back into the river as quickly and as gently as possible.  This trout although not much more than 10 inches long came from a very tricky spot, a place for a boss fish.  A photo ID of it could prove useful in future years.  Those markings will be very easy to recognise.

Of course, on another day, the fish will be all feeding in the same manner over the whole river and dry fly fishing becomes dead easy again with no need for all this chopping and changing at all!

(Click on the pictures for a closer look.)

Regular Rod

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

As Good as a Rest?

The prospect of fishing a private estate lake for some of our native coarse fish raises the spirits to heights of joy and excited anticipation.  This was the treat for today thanks to a good pal, Alisdair.  We raked our swims and fed in some samples of the intended hook baits.  Worms and bread for the lucky guest, with cockles being Alisdair's choice.

His first fish was a Tench that took some landing as it had charged through the weeds, collecting an additional payload that made netting the fish akin to some new aspect of gymnastics to be displayed at the next Olympics...
First Fish of the Day (Cockle for bait)

There is something very lovely about a Tench no matter what size it is.  Maybe it's that ruby red eye?
A Jewel of an eye and a Jewel of a Reel (Alisdair is a very stylish angler)

Here's another one that fell for one of Alisdair's cockles.

Your blogger fished in the way he first fished back in 1956, which turned out to be a good policy.  The rod, an unrestored Edgar Sealey Octopus Float Caster De-Luxe, was mated to the Speedia centrepin reel that used to be Grandad's. A home-made antenna float was set up to move up or down by any displacement of the number 6 shot fixed two inches from the size 8 hook.  Bait to begin was worm.  Close in to the water lilies was the place to be...
Don't you just love water lilies in a lake? (Click the Picture for a Closer Look)

Worms proved attractive to the Perch and, being perfectly happy to catch Perch for a while, your blogger kept on using worms.  Then suddenly a different fish put a bit of a bend in the rod.  It was a Rudd.  All the while the worms had been deployed, some small samples of pinched bread were being fed in.  Here was a Rudd.  To catch Rudd instead of Perch all that was necessary was to change over to bread flake for bait.  So it proved, lots of Rudd.  The bait was increased in size to encourage the bigger fish to take it.  This worked well, with the landing net being required for several of these lovely fish.  Then suddenly...  The float sailed away, the hook was set and then the reel was screaming!  No Rudd this, sure enough it was a Tench.  A small Tench but very strong and blessed with the big paddle-like fins that reveal it to be a male.

Change is said to be as good as a rest but your faithful correspondent fished pretty hard today, using up an entire small white loaf in the process.  Guess who, after his tea, fell asleep exhausted, but very happy. 

Regular Rod

Friday, 4 August 2017

Tributary Trials and Triumphs

Today was a lovely day.  Early on, the odd drop of rain for sure, but mainly dry, blue skies with fluffy clouds and a gentle breeze to keep the angler comfortable.  Perfect for Henry to stretch himself after his brief, post operative, enforced reduction in his activities.  By Gum!  He did enjoy himself being the mighty hunter as we moved from one fish ambushing point to another.

We were on the lowest beat of a favourite tributary to the mother river.  It is a gin-clear, limestone spring-fed river that runs over bright gravel.  The fish are feisty in this section.  You can get an idea of how feisty some of them can be by the name of this corner run...  "Hook Straighten Bend"  (Say it out loud quickly...)

Hook Straighten Bend!
Within less than half an hour of starting your Blogger managed to get the fly caught in one of the over hanging tree branches on the opposite bank.  On this bank there is a fallen tree with root ball on the bank and shattered trunk on the river bed.  It looked like it might make a useful means of reaching the fly and retrieving it before it became a bat trap this evening.

Not Safe to Walk On!
 Oh Dear!  It's at least a couple of years since your correspondent last fell in.  The tree proved a slippery platform and even with landing net handle as a walking cane, gravity won.  Fortunately the trajectory into the water was straight down and angler remained upright throughout the incident.  With water up well past the knees it seemed pointless to just get out without achieving the original object of the mission.  Fly was recovered even if dignity was not.  Of course all the fish were by now elsewhere...

Wellingtons tipped out, trousers and socks removed and wrung out, expletives at a minimum, the angler restored himself to his personal comforts as best he could in the circumstances.  Another, undisturbed ambush point was sought and the day's sport continued.  We even found a rather splendid feather from a heron, perfect for Kite's Imperial.

It's hard work on this little river.  The fish are impossible to catch if they know you are there.  It really is a matter of approaching on hands and knees and sitting, or at least kneeling, to fish.  Time flies when you are enjoying yourself, even when somewhat damp.  Operations were ceased at a Baker's Dozen and home to tea around 19:00.  We had a great time. 

What Next Dad?
Henry is back in his high spirits again and, because of that, so is your faithful blogger.

Regular Rod

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

"I want to tie flies, what materials do I need?"

If only your faithful correspondent had a £ for every time he has been asked that, or a similar question... 

The correct answer of course is, "It depends..."

The flies used in this blog are all simple to tie, because this blogger is not what you'd describe as a "skilful fly dresser".  They all work well, because there is no point in making flies and carrying them about if they don't!

This little table below might prove helpful to anyone starting out to make themselves their own version of the "Derbyshire Fly Box".  Readers from around the world have been very kind in reporting that, on their rivers, these flies do still work and often working very well indeed.  It may also make a good starting point for a newcomer to dressing their own flies.

 Click it for a closer view.

Of course you will need some hooks and the tools

(Oops!! I've also forgotten to add the materials in for the wings of the PPSG Poly Prop Spent Gnat... Sorry!)

Regular Rod

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Independence and Influence from the USA

First of all, a Happy Fourth of July to you readers in America!  It is customary for your faithful blogger to wish you all well on this day each year and this year is no exception. 

Today is a good day to acknowledge how, in less than 100 years after your independence, American know how and improvements in materials had already influenced fly fishing in general and dry fly fishing in particular here in Great Britain.  It was two way traffic though, because the new materials led to changes in rod design here that wended their way back to the USA where they were then developed even further on both sides of the Atlantic, to the benefit of dry fly fishers everywhere.

"What the Devil is Regular Rod on about?" you may wonder.

You may recall mention in these posts of James Ogden, a Victorian fly fisher and entrepreneur who set up in business in the 1840's to supply his floating flies by mail order.  His business grew and by the 1860's he was supplying much more than his flies.  By then he had trade links with manufacturers and suppliers of materials from around the world including the USA.  Of particular note were the new silk fly lines that were available from makers in several different countries.  Most of these lines had an inbuilt flaw due to the manufacturing process.  They had little bits of silk sticking out along their entire length due to the sections of silk each having a start and an end.  This was not a big deal to anglers at the time because for centuries they had used and many still did use, lines made of lengths of horse hair, which had the same problem of bits sticking out.  The style of casting a line then was to lay the line out in one go using a long rod, a boy may have an eleven or twelve foot rod and a man's may be as long as eighteen feet although rods of sixteen feet were more commonly seen.  It worked.  Fish were caught.  The pleasures of angling were enjoyed.  So why worry?

The art of selling sometimes relies on helping folk realise that they actually do need what you have and that a new way may be better for them.  James Ogden did this for fly fishers.  He imported his silk fly lines from America and these lines were dressed with a tough coating that sealed in all those sticking out ends of silk.  They were smooth.  Unlike the other lines they would pass through the rod rings (guides) very easily and didn't jam up.  Some anglers discovered that it was possible to extend the cast by shooting these smooth running lines through the rings.  James Ogden noticed this and realised that a long rod was unnecessary if you used the "shooting a line" technique.  So he introduced a range of short rods, some only eight feet long, under the name "Multum in Parvo" ("Much in Little"). 

American idea of six sides, English made rod, American FISH!
The combination of the smooth American fly lines and a rod of around eight feet became the rig to have.  It was a small step from the first Multum in Parvo rods of solid timbers such as Greenheart and Blue Mahoe to the beautiful built cane versions of the 1880's, which were in turn based on the American idea of using six strips of cane, built to make hexagonal section rods.  The influence of the Multum in Parvo rod stretched back to the USA and nearly all single handed fly rods became "short".  In the middle of the next century this influence was to come back over the Atlantic with Lee Wulffe (Joan Wulffe too) and Lefty Kreh demonstrating that very long casts were possible with even shorter rods (only six feet long), thanks to their double haul casting techniques.

Below are a few snippets from an Ogden catalogue of the period.  It would seem fly lines have always been pricey items.  6/6 in labour content in those days would be £183.10 today ($236.80) !!!

Well here is at least one dry fly fisher who is very glad of the American influence on our Sport, wishing you all another "Happy Fourth of July"!

Regular Rod

Monday, 3 July 2017

High Summer Puzzle

Yesterday was a lovely day.  A short bike ride in the morning to get the legs buzzing, luncheon with family and then downriver in the afternoon and staying on for the evening rise with Henry.  It was hard going in the heat as there are no connecting "rides" mown into the very long grass in the top meadows, so we walked briskly down river by the waterside, scaring the fish as we travelled.  Never mind, by the time we turned to work our way back up river the fish would be calm again and feeding in earnest.


"There!  Did you hear that?"

We had some fine Sport in Elliott Holme Wood.  Your blogger with fish eating midges. Henry hearing pheasants (but, in obedience to his friend, not going after them).

"Sneak in here Dad!"

He knew that a pause by the run above Elliott Holme would be likely and kindly waited for me to sneak in on hands and knees as usual...

Experiments in the past with attempts at making the perfect fake midge have all so far ended with the Scottish verdict "not proven".  The conclusion being it might be better to simply carry a choice of tiny Sturdy's Fancy and Grey Duster flies instead of the new experimentals... So a small Sturdy's Fancy was deployed and the grayling and wild rainbow trout conveniently tried to eat it. 

Sturdy's Fancy - A "midge" on a "Mosquito" (the rod's name)

The grayling seemed to follow the fly for a yard or two before taking it and the fly had to be correctly placed on the conveyor belt before they would begin to follow it.  On the other hand, the rainbow trout would move almost as much as a yard to intercept it and an almost sloppy cast would do.  Quite distinctive differences in the way the two species behaved.

The sun went below the horizon just as we reached a pool where we face into the west.  This is a very convenient position to be in during an evening rise, as the water reflects the colour of the sky and the fly can be seen quite well even though it is going dark.  The rise forms were now clearly the oval shape of fish feeding on spinners so the Poly Prop Sherry (PPS) was put into service with a fresh length of tippet just in case the older length had picked up any damage, such as abrasion, during the previous few hours.


At last we found brown trout.  Much appreciated as the wild rainbow trout and grayling are, some brown trout make the day perfect.

Here is the puzzle though.  During the day not a single Blue Winged Olive dun had been seen.  The fly on the menu was midge. 

So where did all the adult female Blue Winged Olives (the Sherry Spinners) come from?

Where were the duns in the daytime?

The answer is that the bulk of the duns round here. in high summer, seem to hatch at two or three in the morning.  Those Sherry Spinners are the adults from at least the previous night.  It will change again as the summer ends but right now, if you see a dun flying about in the heat of the day it is unlikely to be a Blue Winged Olive.

(As ever just click on a picture for a closer look...)

Regular Rod