November 2006

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The flycasting finally showed a little improvement at the weekend. I set up my 30 metre tape in the local park, and started flailing away with a 4 weight. A weird thing happened: a tight back cast loop. I had previously only heard of such a thing as a rumour from hushed conversations between experto casters, so to see one in the flesh was pretty mind-boggling. And for it to originate from the tip of one of my own rods, WHILST I WAS CASTING IT, was almost too much to take.

The wierder thing was that it didn’t happen for any apparent reason other than that half way through my practice session I turned around 180 degrees from the direction I had been casting in so that the sun was on my face. Suddenly razor tight ones emanated unstoppably. I think there is a sun god, and he likes flycasting.

I managed 77ft on my best chuck. Watching back the video was more encouraging than this slightly meagre figure would imply. I have definitely changed my casting stroke this autumn, the most obvious manifestation of this being there is actually now something approaching a proper stop on the back cast. I think it’s probably got something to do with endlessly watching videos of the ubercaster, and spending a little time with the man himself. My hauling is almost, dare I say it, getting quite tasty. It’s really the tracking issue I’ve got to work on. I reckon with better tracking and a smoother stroke things could get considerably better. If my 5 weight ever gets sorted then who knows…

I love the hills.

When I was a bit younger I used to go on holiday to various bits of Scoland with my family, and the older I got the more I noticed the hills. For a long time they seemed far off and unatainable. There they would lie at the end of huge valleys and across boggy moors, quietly beckoning. None of my family were real hill-walkers so I felt bound by the seat belt of the car and the rain drumming on the B&B bedroom windows.

Near the end of my school days something happened which changed everything. I went on a Duke of Edinburgh Expedition, as part of the Gold Award. The expedition was a 50 mile walk over 4 days through some of wildest Scotland. Up to this point I had always dissapointed the Scots half of my family by demonstrating apparent indifference to their side of my heritage. Those 4 days changed a lot. A seed was sown and that seed has grown.


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Well I think I’ve finally discovered the secret to improving your distance casting. Use a short fly line.

A few weeks ago I reversed my 5 weight DT line on the reel so the horrible greasy, sticky half of the line I’d been using would be at the backing end of things. I also cut off some of the nasty end taper, leaving me with a line probably only 25 yards long.

Today, for the first time, I cast a full fly line. My ego has been given a serious shot of speed. Nothing will stop me now from becomming the greatest caster in the universe. At least with my rules.

I was using my new rod, which I’m beginning to seriously enjoy casting with. It feels fantastically responsive and will make the line do whatever kind of dance I like (and some I don’t). It’s one of the now discontinued Sage XP’s, in a 9′ 5 weight. I spent all my money on it. But I think it might be worth it. One day I might even be able to afford a good reel for it. But you can’t have it all.

In the meantime, I may actually put a proper fly line on it and see if I can cast all of that. We shall see..

My fly fishing ‘history’ can be roughly split into two periods: BB and AB. These stand for ‘Before Bob’ and ‘After Bob’. Anyone sniggering at this point, well, I’ve never met the man so let’s not go there.. The Bob I’m referring to is of course Bob Wyatt of Trout Hunting fame. This book had a really strong influence on the way I fish and the way I think about fishing. In fact it is what made me sit up and start to think a little about my fishing in the first place. It’s helped me to be able to ponder, with at least slight objectivity, about what might be going on when I tie that shaggy size 14 sedge onto my tippet.

One of the things I most enjoy about Bob’s writing is his wonderful ability to present simple, logical ideas that suggest how trout live and feed. His writing style is very relaxed and readable, and you never feel you are receiving a lecture. Sometimes when I’m out on a river and things are not going well I’ll share a wry chuckle with myself (or anyone willing to listen) that goes somewhere along the lines of “what would Bob say?” More often than not the answer I find bubbling into my brain tells me to sit down, have a cup of tea and smell the flowers!


I particularly like the emphasis Bob puts on fishing pals and how important it is to have in mind that fishing should be about the experience. One of the last and best chapters is in fact called “The Experience is the Thing” and I think he just about sums up all that is great about the shared joy to be found in angling. I feel like I’m there bobbing down the windward shore of a highland loch in June, a good pal near by, sharing some banter and catching bright wild brown trout.


If one of my own pals, the pal Al, is reading this I suspect a small smile may have crept across his lips by this point. This is to be expected however, because he ‘knows‘ Bob. Even if you don’t have this privilege, I cannot recommend a better book to tuck into this closed season.


The weather has been angry the last couple of days. Hopefully things will calm down a little tomorrow and I’ll head to the hills once more.


In the meantime, I’ve been sorting through some of my winter bugs. I don’t know when my first trip out for grayling will be, but I’m going to be ready for it. I reckon a couple nights tying up some ammonite nymphs and scruffy tungsten bead hare’s ears and we’ll be cooking.


Most of my winter bugs are of Czech and Polish origins. The Czech nymphs I tie are just like the typical ones described ad infinitum in all the fishing mags. The Polish ones are pretty nice though, and you don’t see as many of these around. They are the ones in the second group down (left side) in the first photo. You need to learn a bit of cross-weaving to tie them, but with a little practice you have a way to tie nymphs that sink faster than you would belive possible.. Last winter I caught a 3lb grayling on a small one of these, so they do work 🙂

Extra points for anyone spotting the slightly less-traditional contributions to my selection.