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Ronan's report

Monday 10th October, 2011

An interesting discussion on the Board got me thinking about why we fish, count our catches (if we're not appreciating flowers and picking mushrooms or else living some semi-buddhist ecstasy trance state, in which case we obviously need a golf-shot counter - because why the hell else would you play golf?)

And I came to the conclusion that it's about patterns. For me, I fish to become the best fisher that I can. Period. The other stuff; the travel, the great friends I make, the life I live, the chicks (because there are many, obviously) are quite incidental to the core issue, which is becoming as good at this thing as is possible.

I don't know why this is my core issue, I didn't plan it out this way. I don't like tomatoes for example, (unless they are cooked in an exciting campfire stew by Ronan), but raw you can keep them. I know they're good for me and if I had planned my life before I began it and had ticked all the like/don't like boxes, I would have chosen to have liked tomatoes - hell, I've even tried liking them. And liking tomatoes do not exactly make for an exciting life's plan.

It's nice to have a path in life. It's complicated when someone asks "why", but it doesn't matter why you are going somewhere only that you have a direction. At least I'm lucky in mine, I will always become a better angler. That makes fishing pretty special.

I've always held the argument that men never peak, only get better. It's not true for all of us, but I know that in every case of flyfishers, we never peak - there is no top of the mountain and climbing is the goal. Every day we learn something that makes us better, otherwise it's a wasted day.

Truly! You don't even have to be fishing to learn, but it's better if we are. It's possible we could be on the Internet on Sexyloops, or practising casting, or flytying. I want to fish every day. I don't think that's such a big ask. Some years I've pushed 330, this year, what with cycling OZ and European commitments I'll be lucky to do half, which is absolutely not good enough but I had fun on the bike...

Anyway, during the Board discussion Simon asked me to reveal some of what I've learned about fish patterns... and what an absolutely huge project that is. It's a good seed. While pottering around here in Hungary, I've been thinking a little bit about this subject and I think the answer can be based around flies.

Flies I've caught over a thousand fish on: Black Marabou, Shipman's, Claret Suspender, DHS, Cove (maybe?), Olive Damsel Nymph, Olive Woolly Bugger (probably), Black Gnat (!). The exclamation mark comes from the fact that that was during one month's fishing on a river in Scotland and some days I was catching 80+ fish, so I'm not quite sure that counts. 1000 on a Muddler Minnow, no question. And there are no doubt a few others.

Black Marabou: Dark size 10 4x l/s hook, black thread, black chenille body (fairly fluffy), silver wire or copper rib, black marabou wing, little bit longer than the hook with the marabou pinched not clipped and not too much of it!

- Slays at night, fishes just under the surface - rivers or lakes. Awesome on cloudy days, early season pretty good on stillwaters, but midsummer during electric storms and buzzer hatches kills fish. Last knockings can't be beat. Simple to tie, always fished slowly, figure-of-eight. Takes Caenis feeders, when fished fast figure-8. Eliminating the flash on this fly is important; no twinkle, silver hooks, or thick flashy rib. Fluorescent tails or throats can be useful - although a different fly; Viva, Christmas Tree. Different kind of take however: more aggressive.

Shipmans: Size 12 d/e hook, white poly yarn tied along the shank as breathers, brown thread, brick seal body teased above the shank with velcro and tapered towards the bend, pearl lurex medium rib.

- this is an unbelievable fly. Tied the way I tie it - and yes it's possible to tie Shipman's that don't work! - it nails fish under so many circumstances, from the obvious both opportunistic as well as difficult buzzer/shuck and sedge rises on lakes, but also rivers also as a search pattern. It may be the best search pattern I have, at least as a dry fly, although most of the fish it's taken are on general and extreme rises. It often picks fish out when fished in the middle of a three fly team. There are key triggers in this fly, from fishing truly in-the-surface, the pearl rib, the scruffy lifelike outline, the white breathers.

Claret Suspender: size 16, white bow-tie of ethafoam at head, dark thread (not black) claret seal fur body - not overdone but scruffy, wire rib.

- The interesting thing about this fly, is not that it's an easy fish catcher to pick up its numbers, but because I've fished it so often on the point as well as fished it for numerous difficult fish. For a long time I didn't like CDC, because CDC flies are like high-maintenance chicks and this has been a key fly for me. Less so since I've gone higher maintenance but you won't get me fishing CDC on a lake when I can fish this fly, and personally I'd like to adapt it to smaller sizes for rivers in the future.

Deer Hair Sedge: size 12, brown thread, olive seal fur body, gold rib, darkish deer hair tips wing, more s/f below the wing butts which are then trimmed.

OK I've run out of time. I'll pick up on this on my next FP. I have some thoughts about why these flies work so well and often to the exclusion of others. And it's not that I would intentionally go out armed to catch on these flies, because mostly they are not the core bread and butter fish, sometimes they work because they pick off difficult fish, but mostly they all can on their times catch everything. Right conditions, right fly, right presentation and all the keys are there.

And just as interestingly, maybe more so, are the times when they completely fail. How come the same fly that slayed fish one day, can spook the fish next time? Amazing.

Until next time..


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