Imagine experiencing that moment right before death, when you look back on your life and thinking to yourself, with disappointment, "I didn't fish enough!" What a waste!!!
My overall ambition in life is to fish a minimum of 20,000 days. Currently I'm somewhere around 8,500 - more than 8, less than 10...
Last week i was at the EWF (Erlebniswelt Fliegenfischen) near Munich. The show is a very nice and pretty big event one should not miss. Many years ago I had visited the purely fly fishing show. It’s a healthy mix of sales stands, casting demonstrations and fly dressers. The setting is in an beautiful monastery. The weather was very nice so many hundred visitors were using the typical Bavarian beer garden setting outside. This facilitated getting in contact with other fishermen very much.I also met a few of the fellow Sexyloopers and got good help with my roll cast from with Mark Surtees and Mike Heritage.
After this eventful weekend with lots of fly fishing talk, fantastic company, good food and few beers I travelled on to the Czech Republic to meet with Czech champion fisherman and fly shop owner Jan Šiman. "Czech" out his website http://www.goflyfish.cz ;-)
Jan had invited me to the opening of the fishing season at the Otava river. The 112km long Otava river flows through Bohemia until she confluents with Czech biggest river, the Vltava. The river flows through several towns, including Sušice, Strakonice and Písek. The fishing was very demanding as the river was very high. I managed to trip and break my beloved HT4 in the process. Lee is working on fixing it.
On Saturday Jan had arranged for a get together with casting and fly tying on the program. I was given 3 hours to show the book and demonstrate some fly tying techniques. Many showed up, despite the fantastic weather. I’ll go back to Jan’s after a week in Prague. The forecast says the river will have dropped by then and Jan suspects that even dry fly fishing is possible. Let’s see. I’ll keep you posted and have another one of these fantastic Czech beers in the meantime.
Tracy caught her first barracuda at long last this week, after many years of trying. When I say ‘first barracuda’ I mean a ‘proper’ sized one; she has caught many cudas before (probably hundreds), usually by mistake on a bonefish fly but occasionally targeted by casting a clouser on a toothy critters leader into a likely looking spot. However this was her first adult fish that was patrolling the flat alone.
I’ve written before about how I think barracuda are a very challenging target. Above about 4 or 5 pounds they lose all their naivety that sees them snapping instantly at any fly they see, and they turn into disdainful creatures that will follow a fly many times but hardly ever take it. Tracy has been learning the technique that I described in the cuda FP and on the day in question managed to get 3 takes from different fish resulting in one landed. The one she caught took the fly after at least 30 casts – the first cast offers the best chance, but if the fish follows and refuses then the process of ‘annoying’ it begins, during which they either get bored and swim off or, hopefully, strike at the fly.
In all my thousands of fly fishing days I had to learn, that the combination of catching BIG and MANY fish almost never happens to us!? So, in order to succeed we better focus on one or the other one!
With my backpacking trout trip postponed indefinitely, I reluctantly moved on to option B and started planning for the upcoming Keys tarpon season. Last year I made the mistake of waiting too long to head north and by the time I got up there the water had warmed and the trout were uncomfortable. That is why I wanted to go in April this year. I could, of course, still go in May, but that can be the best tarpon month of the year. And I have my priorities.
It's rather odd that Sage has such a grand reputation in the fly fishing world when fly shops routinely recommend one line weight heavier than is written on the rod. Who's got it wrong? The fly shops or the manufacturer?
As far as I'm concerned if you need to over-line your rod to make it feel right, or use a line that is heavier than AFTTA rating, then you've probably bought the wrong rod.
A while back I was asked to contribute a couple of my steelhead fly patterns to be included in a new book called, aptly, Modern Steelhead Flies. Written and researched by Rob Russell and Jay Nicholas, and published by Stackpole Books, it’s available currently at awesome flyshops and by the usual internet means. You can even get it on Kindle! Being included in the book among so many truly great tiers is a humbling experience for me, and something I’m proud of. It’s even been getting some really good reviews despite my inclusion. This fly is one of my patterns included in the book. The Bluesbreaker.
May is approaching rapidly, and with that, so many options for great fishing. One event that most trout- and graylingfishermen look forward to is of course the onset of the Danica-hatch, which usually begins in the last week of May, depending a little bit of weather.
The world of North Country spiders such an interesting one. I am making my own humble trials on the old patterns and try to stay true to the tradition and the thinking of the fishermen back then. A tradition of down to earth and effective fishing flies.
After I have been introduced to them by Mike Connor many years back, I have fished spiders on and off, always with great success. They seem to catch fish in these “impossible” situations.
In 2009 I was working as tourist guide at the roadside information center in Norway between Nord-Trøndelag and Nordland, about 250km south of the artic circle. Many tourists came through this place, mostly middle age and above people hauled around in big busses. They seemed oddly mal-placed in the nature surrounding the center. They stopped mainly of two reasons - the bus driver had to take the legal brake and the tourists had to empty their bladder and stomach, so they could sit still for the next few hours.
It is amazing what perception some people have. I got asked more then once where the polar-bears are and if one could see them from right in front of the center. Sad really. So these bus tourists went to the toilet, asked strange questions like “where are the bears” and bought their ice creams on sticks. Some of them were very good in the art of “dropping your plastic dump where ever you just stand”.
This roadside tourist center was in the middle of some the most amazing mountain fishing one can have in Scandinavia. Lakes and rivers all around, and I was even paid to be there. 500m meters away from the road on the other side was an ecological farm. They kept sheep and produced honey and all sorts of things they could get from the land, even wooden outdoor furniture. The endurance and stamina these people had to operate a farm like that in these harsch conditions and long winters is amazing to watch.
The family had two 8 and 11 years old boys. The guys dropped by one day as they heard rumours that there was fly fisher working at the tourist hut. They came to have chat and ask me loads of questions. It turned out that they were enthusiastic fishermen using spin rods and nets for farming the lakes they were responsible for. Their father gave them responsibility very early in their lives. First it was a little strange talking to them as these kids behaved adult in a way. You could see that they liked to play and that they were kids, but when called upon or seeing a task needed fixing, they switched to being responsible adults. They were the highest possible contrast in character to the majority of the tourists coming through. Without a word the kids kept picking up the garage the tourist had dropped, for example. They didn’t even complain. They new that these people wouldn't understand.
When they asked me to teach them fly casting and tying I agreed to with great enthusiasm. It was great fun sharing some of my knowledge with them as they learned very quickly. We fished together almost every night of the three month I stayed at this place. It was amazing. I learned a lot from their bush skills. They also knew their boats and the lakes and waters inside out. I must admit that I was fascinated and humbled by the two brothers.
I still remember the first day they came to the tourist hut. During our conversation I showed them my huge flybox which I also use as sort of shop. Their eyes grew bigger and bigger. They almost broke in tears of joy when I said that each of them could pick 6 flies of their liking. I did not advise them on what to choose. I wanted to see what a bushcraft skilled fisherman unplugged by modern fly fishing media would pick from the selection of around 30 different patterns I had in that box. The spectrum of flies reached from fancy Oliver Edwards style flies to simple designs. I also had a few spiders in one of the compartments.
The guys picked a Red Tag, a Deer Hair Caddis, a Griffith’s Gnat, a Klinkhåmer and two Spiders. They discussed the Snipe and Purple and the Orange and Partridge spiders in length depth amongst themselves. They said that these were the most realistic of all flies, which left me speechless, which is a very rare state of mind for me. I am still very thankful for all they taught me. I went back visiting them for several years until we eventually lost contact.
Latest from our flats trip – having caught a really nice sized bonefish, about 7 pounds, that tailed on my fly and ran taking backing three times, I wanted a photo of it, but James was too far away. So I took photos of it balanced on my foot (with the rod as an indication of length) and decided that I needed to work out how to do a selfie with my camera for next time. Yesterday I found myself again with a bonefish and James nowhere near, so I tried the selfie mode. Other than myself not quite being in the photo it worked reasonably well. I’ll try better next time… if there is a next time.
Gotland has offered us some fantastic coastal Sea trout trips during the past years. And it does RIGHT NOW!
With apologies to fans of “Wedding Crashers”, this FP is actually about casting.
I find this time of year is difficult in South Florida for my type of flyfishing. Otherwise, it is a very comfortable time unless you don’t care for wind. Today the winds were up, as they have been all weekend, but the sky was a cloudless cerulean blue. The air temperature was rather comfortable. Unless your interests lean toward saltwater flyfishing it is rather nice time to be outside.
Just off the back of four days fishing with Chuan. Six gourami landed and a snakehead off babies! Could have had more gourami too - a few missed strikes here and there and a couple of losses - the usual fishing story (but gourami make any story exceptional). This was Chuan’s fifth trip fishing with me. First time no fish (and no fish saw the fly) - as expected. Second time two hook ups, one broken rod and no fish to the boat - also expected, unfortunately. Third trip one Snakehead and a broken outboard (the outboard was my fault, and not totally unexpected). Fourth - is there ever a four on Sexyloops? - two Gourami and one Snakehead. And now this time? An explosion of fish!
Finally spring also arrived in Switzerland, the birds are sining their song in the morning and the mushrooms are growing again. Also fishing starts really slowly... there is still a lot of water from the melting snow and when we walked to the water we had to stopp for some morels, so we went home with something delicious but no fish.
Salmon season opening is around the corner - in fact, on Monday the 16th. I look forward to it although I can't fish on the very opening this year. I'll be out on Tuesday and it looks like the weather will be nice and I believe there are good chanced for a salmon.
I’m on my way south. The motorcycle is packed with the bare essentials, which Paul ensured me, is less than Piffen hauls around.
First stop is the Musikmesse in Frankfurt and then to the EWF which is held in a castle not far from Munich. Report will follow.
After this I’ll head straight to the area czech nymphing was developed. I am very very honored that Czech master flyfisher Jan Šiman invited me to fish with him. This will be interesting. Bring it on. I’m prepared and ready to learn a lot.
We’ve covered a lot of miles on the flats this week, the fishing has been steady but not spectacular until today; today was one of those days that will stick in the memory for a long time, especially for Tracy who landed a ~7lb bonefish that ‘tailed’ on her fly.
I’ve been in pain all week from a small wound on my heel. I decided to fish the local shoreline near our accommodation in a pair of flip-flops. This was all fine and well until I got to the very end of the bay where the terrain changes from sand to spiky lava rock. Despite knowing I was not in the best footwear for tackling the headland, I did it anyway because the view is quite good (of the flats) from it. Whilst gingerly making my way across the black rocks I spotted a large barracuda in the deep just off the flat, I instinctively turned to get a better view and my foot slipped within the flip-flop (it was greasy with sunscreen), and bare skin came in contact with sharp, pointy rock. The actual damage to my foot was minimal, a piece of skin about 5mm squared was flapping and little blood was spilt. However what’s been really painful is the inevitable infection – applying pressure to this whilst walking has had me grimacing all week, you’ll notice this in the photo’s where my usual expression has been replaced by a smile.
Sounds wild? It indeed was a WILD trip into the UNKNOWN!
I enjoy the beginner’s classes I give each week. It is fun to see the enthusiasm and the frustration. And it is even better when I am able to guide them to some feeling of improvement. Most students I see are coming from a background of spin fishing, so I explain some of the similarities and more importantly the differences. I then demo a simple cast, and once the questions wane I put a rod into their hands. It is almost unfair to make casting look easy, as we all know it is not, at first. And that is the first thing I see when they start trying to cast: the fact that it is much harder than I make it look.
Probably 90% of these students I will never see again. Some will return to take advantage of the free class and ask for more help. A much smaller percentage will ask for private lessons. Since I am nearing the end of a technical career far outside of the fishing industry, which pays my bills, I don’t sweat that part. This is more a labor of love for me, and I try my damnedest to make every minute count for these potential future flyfishing addicts. But I like to have my fun too.
Our earliest Hot Torpedos are now five years young. No this doesn’t mean that we’re bringing out a replacement series! But what it might mean is that it’s time for a service. It doesn’t matter if you are the original owner or a second owner, this offer applies to the rod and therefore indiscriminately. (We guarantee the rod not the owner).
If you send in your HT then for 150GBP we will give it a complete overhaul - we shall strip the rings, re-ring it. If the cork needs replacing because you’ve been using it as a fly patch then please get in touch and we will see what we can do - this is considerably more complicated!
A text message came through from my buddy the other day. A screenshot of a photo of a beautiful steelhead with a quoted message of praise and thanks from the angler, to my friend, who had tied the fly upon which the fish was caught. Simple enough, right? My fly tying friends often share stories like this among our group. It’s not bragging though.
It’s a neat feeling knowing that your fly was a part of an experience that brought someone joy. It’s an even greater feeling knowing that they experienced so much joy that they were inspired to share their excitement in return. It’s a unique feeling as well, because, as the fly tier, you have not only given away or sold a fly, but you have also, in essence, peddled a bit of confidence to a fellow angler.
LumiLines are here - the new ones, of course. I just got them yesterday afternoon, and I was too tired to try them out immediately. One thing I did notice, just as I went to bed, was the luminescense. I hadn't done anything special to charge them (they sat on the desk under a normal light desk top lamp) and even after a few hours with no direct light, there was a clear glow from the spools. I really think these will light up in the dark :-).
Extended bodies are flies where the insect’s abdomen is completely or is partly separated from the hook shank. Traditionally, the hook shank is used as the core for the insects imitations abdomen and thorax. This is not the case with extended body flies. On these, only the thorax and / or the wing-case are wound around and onto the hook-shank. The positive arguments for extended body flies are strong. Firstly, you are not limited by the hooks size and shape. Secondly, the extended bodies have a more realistic appearance as they are not as stiff as abdomen constructed directly on the hook shank. Finally, they also float very well, which enables one to use heavier and stronger hooks. Once one has understood the basic concepts, they are quick and easy to tie.
There are quite a few techniques for extended bodies. In this book we'll look at the three most common methods and materials.
furled yarn body - used in the Carpet Yarn Caddis
foam body - used in the CDC Mohican Mayfly
polychenille body - used in the Daddy Longlegs pattern in the Terrestrial insects Section
... the CDC Mohican Mayfly ... read on
I’ve notched up three ‘firsts’ for me on the flats of Long Island this week:
1) I’ve landed a new species for me on a fly rod – a remora. I’ve ‘caught’ remora before but only attached to other bigger fish, this one, however, was fairly hooked in the mouth. Whilst wading a soft flat I noticed a small mud, thinking this may have been made by a lone feeding bonefish I cast my gotcha into it. Two short strips later I felt some resistance that clearly wasn’t from a bonefish and then a saw a long dark shape struggling on the end of the line. To say the fight was unimpressive is perhaps giving the fish too much credit, it came to hand in a matter of seconds despite it being the biggest remora I’ve seen at about 20 inches long. Its soft squidgy body, pretty much lacking in firm muscle, betrays a lazy, free-loading lifestyle, I hope the stingray from which I removed it is grateful.
I'm covering for Bernd today who has disappeared for a month of Imaginary SW fly fishing. Actually Tropical SW isn't quite nearly as imaginary as I once believed, and I plan to do rather a lot of it in the future. The prospect of living on a yacht sailing the open oceans has great appeal to me, and is principally why I started a fly rod business. Short of becoming a pirate, buying a sailing boat is my best option. And if things don't work out as planned I always have the beard to fall back on.
I'm back "in the jungle" in Northern Malaysia, which is my current "home"/ base/ fishing location. I was in the city of KL last week organising paperwork. It's ironic that one of the reasons that Ashly and I got married on the Great Lake, Tasmania, was so that we could avoid getting married in an office (here in Malaysia couples get married in offices) and yet since we got married I seem to be spending a lot of my life in offices organising long term visas, Malaysian marriage certificates and so on!
It will be interesting to see if or when we decide to spend more time in Europe, whether it will be so simple, the same or harder to organise Ashly's long term (spouse) VISA. Mind you, I don't fancy living in the UK, and it might be very challenging in the future to live and work in Continental Europe. Time will tell...
Anyway, that's enough of UK politics - as you may recall politics don't reach the jungles of Belum... so let's talk about something far more interesting: Stillwater Trout Fishing!!!
I am pretty sure that anyone who has been fly fishing for more than a few years was helped, some way, by Lefty Kreh.
Personally, I could not possibly estimate the number of Deceivers that I have tied in my life, or how many fish I have caught on them. And, it would take more than my fingers to count the number of his books I own, and those that I have represent only a fraction of what he authored.
I'm down in the city organising a) our wedding being official in Malaysia - tick - and b) my Spouse Visa - today. Each of these seem to take an incredible amount of time, sitting in offices, driving back to pick up some form that we didn't have and didn't think we needed, photocopying everything imaginable, and spending money. But everyone is friendly and it feels like an adventure of sorts. I'll be back in the jungle soon - thank goodness! I find it hard to sleep here at night, with all the traffic noise; in the jungle the only noise that can keep you awake is the elephants and Hantu Tetek. However as always it's nice to catch up with many friends; including Nick Ooi, Irhamy and the Doc. I'll be back next week to pick up my passport and pay my Spouse Visa bond! All in all, it's actually quite straight-forward despite being a little time-consuming.
Something interesting happened last week. As many of you will know I was born in Jersey, the Channel Islands, and I compete for Jersey Island in the world fly casting championships. The Channel Islands are putting together a combined Channel Islands fly fishing team and so I thought that I would apply (The Channel Islands are Jersey, Guernsey, Sark, Alderney and Herm - there are a couple of others too but they are really just small unpronounceable rocks).
I've been thinking about competition fishing for a while, since many of my friends compete, particularly in the Balkans, USA, Hungary, UK and Australia. And so I thought it would be interesting to have a go (I competed in my early through mid-twenties). Nothing raises your game quite like competition in fly casting, and it also applies to fly fishing. However despite being born in Jersey, having a Jersey Passport and having spent considerable time growing up there, the Channel Island Fly Fishing Association has a rule of their own that one must have been resident on the Islands for the previous two years to be eligible...
That certainly doesn't apply to me; I've been travelling for the last 27 years and the closest I can think of as "residency" at the moment is my 12ft aluminium boat in the Malaysian jungle which has been my home for the past five years. FIPS-Mouche on the other hand require competitors to be citizens of the competing country (for me that's Jersey), and in the case of Malaysia would take me about seven years, which is more time than Ashly and I intend to spend here.
So that's a shame; I thought it would have been good for both sports to combine fly casting competition with fly fishing competition here on Sexyloops (and in Tasmania there would have been an opportunity to do rather well - after all, of my 8000 plus days spent fly fishing at least half has been spent fishing stillwaters for trout). Perhaps I'll go along as Malaysian Team Manager - I still have the Western Lakes to explore!
Finally our goverment opened up the cat season! Now you are allowed to fish for cats because the impact they have on the environment is just too big. With the use of pesticides in farming, the insects are more and more reduced, so the birds are also a lot under pressure. A new study tells us that every year 2 millions sing-birds are killed by cats - so now we fishermen are needed! I already had one on but she escaped... so I did some cat and release...